Former champions Rajasthan Royals (RR) on Monday registered a convincing seven-wicket win over three-time winners Chennai Super Kings (CSK), a result that lifted them from the bottom of the table and kept them afloat in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
While the verdict catapulted RR to the fifth spot on the points table – thanks to Jos Buttler’s 48-ball 70 not out and fast bowler Jofra Archer’s miserly spell — the defeat pushed the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK to the brink of elimination.
Chasing CSK’s 125 for five wickets in 20 overs, RR finished at 126 for three wickets in 17.3 overs.
Before the game started on Monday, RR were lying at the bottom of the eight-team points table with a net run rate (NRR) of -0.778. After they won with 2.3 overs to spare, thanks to Jos Buttler’s 48-ball 70 not out, they climbed to the fifth spot with eight points from 10 matches. Steve Smith’s team now has a NRR of -0.591, and is back in the race to qualify for the playoffs.
The top four teams on the points table qualify for the playoffs after each team has played 14 matches each in the league phase.
CSK have looked under the weather this season and the defeat at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium has pushed them to the bottom of the points table, with a NRR of -0.463. Although SunRisers Hyderabad (+0.008) and Kings XI Punjab (-0.262) also have six points each, they have better NRR than CSK.
Delhi Capitals are atop with 14 while Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore have 12 points each. All three teams have played nine matches so far.
CSK will now have to win all four matches and pray to qualify for the playoffs – a task that seems extremely difficult, but mathematically not impossible.
Earlier, CSK won the toss and batted in a match that was Dhoni’s 200th in the IPL; he thus became the first player to reach 200.
Chasing a meagre 126-run target, RR endured some early blows. However, Buttler’s blistering 70 not out snatched a much-needed win for his side.
RR lost the wickets of Ben Stokes (19), Robin Uthappa (4), and Sanju Samson (0) with just 28 runs on board. It was Deepak Chahar who came with two of the three early breakthroughs, accounting for the wicket of Stokes and Samson.
Josh Hazlewood picked Uthappa, who was caught behind by Dhoni. With the fantastic one-handed catch of Uthappa, Dhoni also completed 150 dismissals in IPL.
Despite the hiccups, an unbeaten 98-run stand between Buttler and skipper Smith (26) was enough to steer RR home with 15 balls to spare.
Buttler’s match-winning knock was decorated with seven boundaries and two sixes. He was named the Man of the Match.
Earlier, some quality bowling by RR restricted CSK for a paltry 125/5.
Ravindra Jadeja was the top-scorer for CSK with an unbeaten 35 while Dhoni managed 28.
CSK were once reeling at 56/4 in 10 overs before Dhoni and Jadeja stitched 51 runs for the fifth wicket, helping their side cross the three-digit mark.
For RR, Kartik Tyagi, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia picked a wicket each.
Brief scores: CSK: 125/5 wkts in 20 overs (R Jadeja 35 not out, MS Dhoni 28, S Curran 22, S Gopal 1/14, R Tewatia 1/18, J Archer 1/20) lost to RR: 126/3 in 17.3 overs (J Buttler 70 not out, S Smith 26 not out, D Chahar 2/18) by seven wickets