Royals survive vintage Dhoni to go top of the table #2


Royals survive vintage Dhoni to go top of the table

by Staff • Last updated on Wed, Apr 12, 2023

The Rajasthan Royals edged home by three runs against the Chennai Super Kings at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday, April 12, thanks to Sandeep Sharma holding his nerve against a rampaging MS Dhoni. This win put the Royals at the top of the points table, due to a higher net run-rate than the Lucknow Super Giants, who are now second.

The Padikkal-Buttler show

After the early wicket of Jaiswal, Padikkal, returning to the XI, played some fluent strokes to give the Royals some momentum, before Jos Buttler joined in to take on the spinners, targeting Theekshana in particular, hammering him for 27 in two powerplay overs. After the powerplay, Buttler absolutely decimated his England teammate Moeen Ali, hitting him for three sixes in an over, and the Royals were well and truly on their way to a sizeable total. Moeen Ali wasn’t having the best day, going on to drop a catch, and missing a run-out too…

The inevitable spin strangle

It had to happen. If not Moeen, it was Jadeja who brought it all to a screeching halt. The experienced spinner picked up Devdutt Padikkal and Sanju Samson in the same over, bringing in his India spin-twin, Ravichandran Ashwin, who was later dropped by Moeen Ali. The spin strangle was certainly working against Ashwin, who struggled to get going, even though he compensated for it by smashing Akash Singh for two sixes, and then holed out to mid-off later in the same over. However, Buttler had survived all of this, and the threat of him going bonkers at the death loomed.

Moeen redeems himself, Hetmyer cuts loose

Moeen Ali, smashed into oblivion by Buttler earlier in the day, cut short Buttler’s innings, knocking him over before he could cut loose at the death, and redeeming himself to some extent. Wickets kept falling at the other end, decelerating the scoring rate, but Shimron Hetmyer dealt a few lusty blows to lift the Royals to 175-8.

The vital early blow and a recovery

The early wicket of the in-form Gaikwad had to be a reason to panic, but that’s simply not how CSK does things. Rahane and Conway laid the platform, albeit falling behind on the required rate, motoring along at 7.5 rpo in the powerplay. The pair found it difficult to pile on the pressure, struggling to regularly find the boundary, the required rate eclipsing the current rate at every stage.

The spin-triggered collapse

It was always going to be CSK’s spinners vs. RR’s spinners. And the trigger was the dismissal of Ajinkya Rahane, who was trapped in front by Ashwin, trying to sweep. Conway was joined by Dube at the crease, and they both looked less than fluent at the crease, as the required rate touched the 10rpo mark in the 12th over. The next three overs, however, saw a dramatic middle-order collapse, thanks to some skilful spin bowling by the Royals, getting rid of Rahane, Dube, Moeen, Rayudu, and Conway, in a collapse that read 5-35. This brought MS Dhoni to the crease, joining Ravindra Jadeja…

RR encounter the Dhoni-zone

CSK needed 63 off 30. The spinners were all over them. CSK’s number 8 had come in to bat in his 200th game as the franchise’s skipper. The experienced duo played out the spinners and got it down to 40 off the final 2 overs.

And then it happened.

Jadeja targeted Jason Holder and hammered him for two sixes and a four in a 19-run over, setting it up for a classic MS Dhoni finish in the final over. Sandeep Sharma was pushed into the cage with Dhoni in the final over, with 21 to win, and the pressure certainly got to the seamer, as he dished out two wides. After nailing a yorker, with 19 required off 5, MS Dhoni picked two low full-tosses (attempted yorkers) and despatched them for sixes to bring it down to 7 off 3. It was then that Sharma gathered himself and bowled three inch-perfect yorkers while also changing around his angle and closed out the game, surviving a last-over Dhoni scare. In the process, he got his side to the top of the table, but denied the home crowd a fairy-tale finish on the occasion of MS Dhoni’s 200th game as CSK captain.

What’s next for the two teams?

The Chennai Super Kings have a 4-day break, as they head to Bangalore to face the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Monday (April 17), hoping to get into the top four with another W in their account. The Rajasthan Royals will travel to Ahmedabad to face the defending Champions Gujarat Titans on Sunday (April 16), in a bid to continue their winning streak.

Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 175-8 in 20 overs(Jos Buttler 52, Devdutt Padikkal 38, Ravindra Jadeja 2-21) beat Chennai Super Kings 172-6 in 20 overs(Devon Conway 50, MS Dhoni 32*, Ravichandran Ashwin 2-25, Yuzvendra Chahal 2-27)by 3 runs

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