Synopsis: Rajasthan choked Chennai with their bowling, an underrated spinner taking out the big hitter, as their ploy of taking the pace off the ball worked. A moment of madness hurt Chennai but a brave effort from Bravo kept CSK in the game but was not enough to prevent a walk in the park for RR (Full Coverage| Fixtures|Points Table)
Pravin Tambe came to prominence from obscurity. Tambe was 41 years old with no first-class experience when Rajasthan signed him up. Two years down the line, he has become Rajasthan’s go-to man. Brendon McCullum is arguably the most fearsome batsman. The New Zealander had started off with a couple of fours against Ankit Sharma in the first over after Chennai Super Kings won the toss and decided to bat on a two-paced Motera pitch. Rajasthan captain Shane Watson, playing his first game of this IPL, brought on Tambe. His first ball was tossed up and McCullum mistimed it as he attempted a lofted drive. The bowler was slow to react and the catch went through his hands, and to the fence. Tambe bowled the next one right from the edge of the bowling crease. It was a flipper. McCullum was hurried and lobbed an easy catch to James Faulkner at mid-on. Amid the hype over high-profile spinners in the tournament, Tambe once again did his job silently. The early blow pegged back Chennai.
Tambe gave away only 19 runs in his first three overs before being hit for 17 in his last. But he gave RR the most important breakthrough.
Taking pace off the ball
Rajasthan think-thank read the pitch well and decided to take the pace off the ball. Left-arm spinner Ankit replaced Dhawal Kulkarni for this game and he came back well after a nervy beginning. Faulkner bowled his cutters to perfection and Chris Morris choked the batters, bowling an impeccable line. He also made Suresh Raina hop. On a slow surface, the left-hander was done in by the extra bounce.
Moment of madness
Chennai were 65 for three after nine overs when the first strategic time-out was called. They had made only 39 runs in power-play, well below their average of 59 in this edition of the tournament. But Dwayne Smith was there, batting on 40 off 28 balls. The pause must have affected his concentration. He attempted a mighty heave in the first ball after resumption. Faulkner’s delivery was always going away with the angle. It took the inside edge and disturbed the woodwork.
Brave effort from Bravo
Dwayne Bravo, promoted up the order, was playing a fine innings. He got going with back-to-back fours off Watson in the 12th over and with MS Dhoni accompanying him, a late blitz was expected. Bravo finished with 62 not out off 36 balls and added 91-runs with his skipper for the fifth wicket. It took Chennai to 156 after they were down to 65 for four inside ten overs. They might have had more but Dhoni struggled to up the ante. A 31 not out off 37 balls was way below par by his standards. He no longer remains the finisher he used to be.
Walk in the park
Ajinkya Rahane and Watson love to bat with each other. Rahane has been in good form, but it was a challenge for the Rajasthan captain to shake off his rust, returning from an injury lay-off. A gorgeous cover drive off Ishwar Pandey in the third over, and the Aussie got his confidence back. From that point onwards, it was a walk in the park for the blue brigade. Mohit Sharma replaced Pandey and Rahane welcomed him with a six over mid-wicket. Watson joined in the fun with a steer to the third man boundary. In came the spinners, and Ravindra Jadeja kept it tight in his first over, conceding only four. Ravi Ashwin, too, was played watchfully as he came from the other end. Then, Watson exploded with consecutive sixes off Jadeja. Rahane slapped a short delivery from Ashwin to the point boundary and Watson slog-swept him over deep mid-wicket fence. Bravo was accounted for 16 runs as a hundred-run opening partnership was raised in the 12th over. The association was separated when Watson was yorked by Jadeja. He made 73 off 47 balls and contributed immensely to Rajasthan’s record opening partnership of 144 runs. Steve Smith got out with scores level but Rahane remained unbeaten on 76 (55 balls) to take his side home with 10 balls remaining. The Man of the Match award was well deserved. So, five on the bounce for Rajasthan and they did it today, breaking little sweat.
As it happened…