Englishman Ben Stokes combined with his countryman and prospective ICC World Cup 2019 teammate Jofra Archer delivered a few lusty blows right when it seemed that Rajasthan Royals' (RR) fate had been sealed. But their efforts went in vain as MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings (CSK) kept a hold on their nerves managing to snatch a narrow 8-run victory from under Royals' hold.
After losing their top-3 at the score of 14 runs, the Royals were ably supported by useful contributions from Rahul Tripathi (39) and Steven Smith (28) but never looked good for the chase of 176 until Archer (24*) joined Stokes (46) in the middle and upped the ante. With 12 runs required of the final over, Dwayne Bravo executed his plans to perfection by getting the big scalp of Stokes with the very first delivery and denying Archer any room to hit one out of the park, while also getting the wicket of Shreyas Gopal for a duck.
Earlier, negotiating largely disciplined bowlers on a tricky pitch, skipper MS Dhoni produced a well-calculated half-century as Chennai Super Kings posted 175 for five against Rajasthan Royals in an IPL game, here Sunday.
The pitch used in the previous match was a rank turner but today it turned to be a different challenge for the batsmen since it was not conducive for stroke-play and helped pacers initially.
Dhoni paced his innings beautifully scoring unbeaten 75 off 46 balls to seize momentum from Royals bowlers who were off to an inspiring start.
Dhoni and Suresh Raina (36) added 61 runs for the fourth wicket, pushing the ball around and later the former India skipper raised a 56-run stand with West Indies' Dwayne Bravo, who added quick 27 runs.
The dew is already troubling the bowlers and it will be a challenge for the home bowlers to control the ball.
Dhoni used his vast experience to read the conditions and mostly worked the ball around to keep the scoreboard ticking. Whenever he got chance he opened his arms and hit four fours and as many sixes.
Royals were disciplined throughout but pacer Jaydev Unadkat conceded 28 runs in the final over with Dhoni finding three of his four sixes in that over after Ravindra Jadeja (8) lofted the paceman for a maximum.
The Royals pace trio of Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ben Stokes kept the CSK batsmen on a tight leash in the powerplay overs. They conceded just 29 runs and also got rid of three top-order batsmen.
Each of them accounted for one CSK batsman, bringing experienced Dhoni and Raina together at the crease.
The runs came in singles with spinners Shreyas Gopal and Krishnappa Gowtham maintaining the pressure with tight line and length.
The ball stopped a bit, specially when Gopal operated, making stroke-making even more difficult. At half-way mark, CSK out on board just 55 runs and only seven boundaries were struck.
Raina meanwhile hit a massive six off Gopal but the two spinners did well to concede 37 runs while bowling in tandem for five overs.
In came Unadkat and went for a few runs but broke the stand by castling Raina with a quick delivery. Raina missed the line and Unadkat hit the stumps.
(With PTI Inputs)