Rajasthan Royals recorded its first win in 14 years against Chennai Super Kings at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, despite a massive M.S. Dhoni scare during a three-run triumph on Wednesday.
Leading in his 200th IPL game as CSK captain, Dhoni had a sizeable task with his team requiring 21 runs in the last over. Sandeep Sharma lightened the load with a couple of wides before Dhoni carted him for two sixes. The seamer, however, landed his last three balls in the blockhole as Royals succeeded in defending 175 on a two-paced strip.
Sandeep had jolted CSK early in its chase when he dismissed an in-form Ruturaj Gaikwad in the third over. However, Ajinkya Rahane and Devon Conway staged a recovery, lifting CSK past 50 as visiting captain Sanju Samson was forced to shuffle through six bowlers by the seventh over.
While Conway made up for a slow start, Royals took a leaf out of Dhoni’s copybook and controlled the game with spin. Ravichandran Ashwin trapped Rahane on 31 in his second over and the pressure of the chase began to cripple a CSK middle-order that has yet to take shape this season. Ashwin bossed Shivam Dube with a quick slider onto the pads before Yuzvendra Chahal removed impact substitute Ambati Rayudu and half-centurion Conway in the 15th over.
Teaming up with Ravindra Jadeja, Dhoni (32 n.o., 17b, 1×4, 3×6) displayed no signs of rust in the chase. However, RR ensured that 63 runs from the last five were beyond CSK’s reach.
Earlier, Jadeja had spun the momentum in CSK’s way after Dhoni elected to bowl first. While a top-order crisis pegged Royals back, Buttler and makeshift No. 5 Ashwin (30, 22b, 1×4, 2×6) helped the team regain control. Shimron Hetmyer’s unbeaten 18-ball 30 then added the finishing touches.
Jadeja put Royals under the pump when he dismissed a promising Devdutt Padikkal and captain Samson with a pearler that spun past him in the ninth over. Samson succumbed to his second consecutive duck, but will be glad that Ashwin and his bowlers prevailed in the spin cauldron this time.