Rajasthan Royals have begun their Indian Premier League campaign with a commanding win over two-time champion Chennai Super Kings in a high scoring game that produced over 400 runs at the iconic Sharjah Stadium on Tuesday.
The day belonged to Sanju Samson, who made a big claim for Indian wicket-keeping spot with a marauding 32-ball 74 and backed it up with four dismissals from behind the stumps including two stumps.
It was surely not the best of days for Chennai Super kings, who put on a shambolic show in batting as well despite some early firework from Shane Watson. The Aussie, who scored 33 off 21, gave the best possible start to the Men in Yellow by taking the side past 50 inside the powerplay.
However whatever hope CSK had, went away with the fielding restrictions as an unlikely hero in Rahul Tewatia put an end to Watson’s cameo. To the respite of RR, the dangerous-looking Oz was clean bowled by a sharp delivery from the Rajasthan left-arm orthodox.
He was soon followed by Murali Vijay (21 off 21), who could only curse himself for not banking on a good start, whose wild slog off Shreyas Gopal was caught comfortably by Tom Curran. This brought upon further panic as Tewatia claimed two further scalps in Sam Curran (17 off 6) and Ruturaj Gaekwad (0 off 1), who were easy stumping opportunities for first innings star Samson behind the wicket.
Reeling at 77/4, newly-in Kedar Jadhav and no.3 Faf du Plessist tried to bring some semblance to the CSK innings with a steady partnership of 37 runs of 28 balls. However a one-handed blinder by Samson behind the stumps off Tom Curran ended Jadhav’s 16-ball 22 cameo.
However the game wasn’t over yet as Faf du Plessis, who has been quietly anchoring the innings from the other end, shifted to third gear as he started taking RR bowlers apart with MS Dhoni joining him with 100-plus needed in last six overs.
The South African skipper slammed seven sixes to get past 50. Faf built a 65-run sixth wicket stand while scoring over 50 runs in the partnership alone.
However with pressure of the required run-rate constantly rising, Faf fell in the penultimate over after miscuing another shot to Samson behind the stumps off Archer.
Dhoni fininshed the match not out at 29 (which included three sixes) with Ravindra Jadeja on the other end not out at 1.
Earlier in the first innings, Sanju Samson and skipper Steve Smith smashed quickfire half-centuries to guide Rajasthan Royals to a formidable 216 for seven.
Sent into bat, Rajasthan lost young opener Yashasvi Jaiswal (6) in the third over but then Samson joined hands with Smith as the duo played sensibly initially before the Kerala wicket-keeper batsman went hammer and tongs at opposition spinners.
Samson (74 off 32) looked in great nick, while Smith, returning to competitive cricket after recovering from concussion suffered before the ODI series against England, made 67 off 49 balls to lay the base for Rajasthan's total.
In the final over, Jofra Archer (27 off 8 balls) hit four sixes off Lungi Ngidi as Royals got 30 runs to take the score past 215.
In all, Royals hit 17 sixes with Samson accounting for nine of them and Smith and Archer having four each in their kitties.
While Smith played the second fiddle initially, Samson took the CSK spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla to task taking 95 runs of eight overs collectively.
Introduced into the attack in the seventh over, Jadeja was clobbered for consecutive sixes by Samson before Chawla went for four sixes in his first over -- three by Samson and one by Smith.
Samson, thus, brought up his quickest IPL fifty in just 19 balls with the help of one boundary and six hits over the fence.
If that was not enough for Chawla, the leg-spinner again leaked in his next over as both Samson and Smith took him to cleaners.
CSK made a much-needed comeback in the match in the 12th over with twin blows in the form of in-form Samson and unlucky David Miller.
While after some great hitting display, Samson fell in search one too many, caught by Deepak Chahar off Lungi Ngidi, Miller departed two balls later in search on a non-existent double.
CSK made another comeback into the match in the 17th over when Sam Curran dismissed Rahul Tewatia and Riyan Parag before Smith departed in the 119th over in search of big hits.
In the last over, Jofra Archer used his long handle to great effect and smashed Ngidi to all parts of the ground and above it to pick up 30 runs.