MS Dhoni starred with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 75 as Chennai Super Kings beat Rajasthan Royals by 8 runs to register their third consecutive win.
The Royals began their pursuit of 176 in the worst possible manner, losing their skipper Ajinkya Rahane for a duck in the first over. Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler could not do much either as the Royals found themselves 3 down for just 14. Rahul Tripathi and Steve Smith then steadied the ship with a 61-run stand before both departed in quick time, leaving their side reeling at 94 for 5.
The Royals soon found themselves 6 down for 120 before Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes joined hands in the middle. The two added 44 runs for the seventh wicket to put Royals well in contention for a win before Stokes departed on the first ball of the final over with 12 runs needed. However, Archer and Shreyas Gopal could only score three as the Royals finished on 167 for 8.
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Earlier in the game, Chennai Super Kings started disastrously. They were three down even before the completion of the fifth over. Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson and Kedar Jadhav were back in the hut with just 27 runs on the board. Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni then steadied the ship. However, just when it looked the duo had their eyes set, Raina departed for 36. The two added 61 runs for the fourth wicket before Jaydev Unadkat broke it.
At the time of Raina’s departure, the Super Kings were reeling at 88 for 4 after the 14th over. Dwayne Bravo then gave the innings the much-needed impetus by scoring 27 off 16 balls before Dhoni decided to open his arms right in the final over. The 37-year old slammed as many as three sixes in the final over to collect 28 runs from the over bowled by Unadkat. He eventually remained unbeaten on 75 off 46 balls.
Speaking after the game, MS Dhoni said:
“We wanted to get a partnership going. We knew there was some dew on the field. We knew it would get easier as the game progresses, We bat quite deep. We could accelerate in the last few overs, and we wanted to get a partnership going. We have a stable XI and there were a lot less left-handers in the opposition, so we gave Mitch Santner a go.
“As the tournament progresses everyone will get more chances. As the tournament progresses, bowlers start executing their plans much better. Initially I thought we would look at how the fast bowlers would bowl so we could bring in the spinners.
“Jadeja and Santner found it hard to grip the ball. Irrespective of the results , it is important to cut the boundaries and it is difficult for the fast bowlers to execute. It’s better to keep hitting the same mark. Whether slower was a good option or not, we need to evaluate that. We need to cut the grass thinner but I don’t think this is a controllable factor. The home franchise will always get more support than the opposition,” MS Dhoni added.