Chennai Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals turned out to be an easy win for the three-time champions. RR won the toss and decided to bat first, both teams remaining unchanged. Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis opened the batting for CSK. Gaikwad failed to find his form and got out for a disappointing 10 runs of 13 balls.
Faf was looking dangerous and took Jaidev Unadkat to the cleaners in the fifth over of the match, scoring three fours and a six. Two of those fours were scoops over fine leg. He got out shortly after that, trying to hit Chris Morris over the off-side but ended up slicing it to the fielder on the boundary. CSK were 46/2 at the end of the powerplay. Moeen Ali and Suresh Raina were the two new players. Raina has been coming in at number 4, a deviation from his usual spot at number 3, this season.
Moeen was smashing the ball very well too. RR bowlers attacked Suresh Raina with the short ball, his lifelong weakness, from the moment he came on strike. Spin was introduced with Rahil Tewatia bowling the 10th over, and the move was immediately successful. Moeen hit a pull shot off a good googly by Tewatia to the mid-wicket fielder on the second ball of the over for a very easy catch. Ambati Rayudu walked in and two experienced players of spin were on the crease at this point. Riyan Parag’s first over was an expensive one giving CSK 16 runs with both batsmen hitting a maximum. Ambati Rayudu hit 2 sixes in the next over as well which forced RR to switch back to fast bowling. This move worked well as Rayudu hit a shot to deep cover and Parag held on to a good catch.
Raina was not at his best as apparent from his poor dismissal, a lofted drive straight to mid-off. The night was set for a trademark Dhoni finish, but it was not to be. He started slow and then changed gears, hitting a couple of boundaries and getting his strike rate above 100 but edged a simple catch to the cover fielder. Chetan Sakariya’s well bowled slower delivery got the better of him.
CSK’s batting is surprisingly deep with Dwane Bravo coming in at 9. Sam Curran and Bravo scored some quick runs to get the total to 188. The six off the last ball of the innings by Bravo was the longest six of the innings. This was a strange inning, to say the least as no batsman got to the 40 run mark but the team still got to a good total. Jaidev Unadkat was expensive with an economy of 10 runs per over and Chetan Sakariya was the highest wicket-taker with three very important wickets.
Naman Vohra and Jos Buttler opened the batting and Deepak Chahar, who got 4 wickets for 13 runs in the last match, opened the bowling. They were off to a flying start scoring 11 runs off the first over. Sam Curran bowled the second over and Buttler edged one to Shardul Thakur at third man but it was too high to catch. Thakur made a good jumping attempt but could only get his fingers to the ball.
Naman Vohra hit a couple of really good shots before hitting a pull straight to Jadeja, who was just placed at deep mid-wicket. It was another disappointing match for Sanju Samson. He managed to score only one run before lobbing a simple catch to mid-on. Young Indian talent Shivam Dube was the next man in. RR got to 45 runs at the end of the powerplay courtesy of Buttler’s 30 runs. Jadeja came into the attack in the 8th over and went for 11 runs in his first over.
Buttler had to walk back for 49 as Jadeja’s beauty denied him a half-century. The ball straightened after pitching on the middle stump and hit the top of the middle and off. Next, he got Shivam Dube out LBW, who reviewed but the decision was not overturned. David Miller got out similarly off Moeen Ali’s bowling. Riyan Parag and Chris Morris hit the ball straight to Jadeja at deep mid-wicket again. Rahul Tewatia and Jaidev Unadkat tried to mount an attack in the end but had no chance as the required run rate was too high. CSK won comfortably by a good 45 runs, increasing their net run rate to the second-highest in the tournament.
Dhoni made some interesting comments in the post-match interview, “The first six balls I played could have cost us in another game. A lot has changed. The way we have prepared, the way we have turned down. The bowlers have been under the pump last year also, so they’re used to the conditions. Getting old and being fit – those are two difficult things! When you’re playing you don’t want anyone to call you unfit. I have to keep up with younger guys, they run a lot, but it’s always challenging.”