Ravindra Jadeja’s brilliant all-round display, after Dwayne Smith's fine batting, helped Chennai Super Kings defend a modest total and beat Rajasthan Royals by seven runs in Wednesday’s IPL match in Dubai.
Put in to bat, Chennai could amass just 140 for six, thanks mainly to opener Smith's 28-ball 50 and a crucial unbeaten 36 by Jadeja lower down the order. But they fought back in grand style to shoot out Rajasthan out for 133 in 19.5 and register their second successive victory in three matches.
Rajasthan’s No 10 batsman Dhawal Kulkarni, who was the team’s top-scorer with an unbeaten 28 from 19 balls, threatened to take the game away from Chennai at the fag end by hitting a huge six in the final over to take his side to within nine runs from the last two balls. However, No 11 batsman Pravin Tambe (2) was run-out to the penultimate delivery.
Jadeja was the Rajasthan’s main tormentor with his left-arm spin bowling. He claimed four for 33 runs in his four overs, including the crucial wickets of captain Shane Watson (7) and Sanju Samson (16) off consecutive deliveries in the seventh over.
Ishwar Pandey, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mohit Sharma chipped in with a wicket each as the Chennai bowlers came up with a disciplined effort.
Chasing 141 for victory, Rajasthan began on a bright note but lost wickets early. They failed to stitch any substantial partnerships, 28 for the ninth wicket being the highest.
None of their batsmen could put up resistance as number 10 Kulkarni emerged their top scorer after half of the side was back in the hut at 63 for five in 10.5 overs.
Some of the Rajasthan batsmen, including captain Watson, went for big shots and perished. From a bright start, they slumped to 57 for four at the halfway mark, and required 85 from the last 10 overs with six wickets in hand.
Any hopes of victory was as good as over after Steven Smith (19) was out in the 13th over.
Rajat Bhatia scored a belligerent 20-ball 23, which was studded with a four and a six, but that only delayed the inevitable.
Earlier, Smith (50) tore into Rajasthan’s bowling with an impressive exhibition of stroke-play at the top, but his fellow-batsmen failed to capitalise on the strong start after being put into bat at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Brendon McCullum (6), Suresh Raina (4), Faf du Plessis (7) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (5) were out cheaply on a slow pitch, as Chennai, failed to put up a big total.
Had Ravindra Jadeja not scored an unbeaten 36 off 33 balls lower down the order, Chennai’s score would have been even lower.
Half of the side was back in the pavilion just after the halfway mark as they were reduced to 74 for five in 11.1 overs. Their biggest partnership was the 39 between Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin (9 not out) for the unconquered seventh wicket.
Smith scored exactly 50 from just 28 balls, with the help of six fours and three sixes. He was out in the eighth over off Stuart Binny just after smashing the bowler for a six.
James Faulkner suffered the most from the blade of Smith, who hit four successive boundaries off the bowler in the sixth over, which yielded 19 runs.
Rajasthan, however, came back into the match with Rajat Bhatia taking the wicket of Raina.
Chennai then lost the wickets of du Plessis and Dhoni in the 11th and 12th overs respectively to find themselves in a precarious position at 74 for five.
Mithun Manhas (10) fell in the 15th over and the responsibility of giving Chennai a respectable total was left to Jadeja and Ashwin.
For Rajasthan Bhatia was the most successful bowler, claiming two wickets for 13 runs.
Faulkner, Pravin Tambe and Stuart Binny chipped in with a wicket each.
Image: Ravindra Jadeja (centre) is congratulated by Brendon McCullum (left), Suresh Raina (right) and Chennai skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.