Buttler drives 126-run chase after loss of early wickets to lift side to fifth; Dhoni’s men fail to force the pace, especially against the leg-spinners
Jos Buttler slammed an unbeaten 70 off just 48 balls (7×4, 2×6) to guide Rajasthan Royals to a comprehensive seven-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Chasing a modest target of 126, RR was struggling at 28 for three before Buttler and Steve Smith (28 n.o., 34b, 2×4) took charge and sealed the victory with 2.3 overs to spare.
RR’s fourth win in 10 games keeps its hopes of a playoff spot alive. CSK’s seventh defeat means its chances are remote.
Walking in at five, Buttler slowly but steadily took control of the chase and was able to find the boundary when needed while Smith was happy to play second fiddle in their unbeaten 98-run stand for the third wicket.
The Englishman started with a reverse sweep off Ravindra Jadeja before he attacked the CSK medium-pacers with his powerful shots down the ground as he got his eye in.
In the 12th over, Buttler hit Shardul Thakur for a four-over point and followed it with a six over long-off to switch gears.
Facing Buttler’s fury
Piyush Chawla faced the fury of Buttler’s willow in the 15th over, going for three consecutive boundaries, the first of which brought up the batsman’s half-century.
CSK relied more on its pacers than spinners, with Chawla being introduced only in the 13th over.
In contrast, the RR bowling effort was led by its leg-spinners Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia, who stifled the CSK middle-order on a wicket that was on the slower side.
Electing to bat, CSK lost Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson cheaply.
The team appeared to build some momentum when Sam Curran and Ambati Rayudu got 15 runs off Ben Stokes in the fifth over.
However, Shreyas accounted for Curran with a googly, forcing the batsman to chip it to long-off, while Tewatia found Rayudu’s top-edge off an attempted sweep to have him caught by the keeper.
Boundaries dry up
CSK failed to score a boundary from the seventh to the 13th over.
The spinners conceded only 32 runs in eight overs between them and bowled a whopping 23 dot balls.
Dhoni (28) and Jadeja (35 n.o., 30b, 4×4) added 51 for the fifth-wicket from 46 balls, but struggled to get the boundaries and power the side to a fighting total.
Chennai Super Kings: S Curran c Buttler b Gopal 22
F du Plessis c Buttler b Archer 10
S Watson c Tewatia b Tyagi 8
A Rayudu c Samson b Tewatia 13
MS Dhoni run out 28
R Jadeja not out 35
K Jadhav not out 4
Extras (b-1, lb-2, w-1, nb-1) 5
Total (For 5 wkts, 20 Overs) 125
Fall of Wickets: 1-13, 2-26, 3-53, 4-56, 5-107
Bowling: Archer 4-0-20-1, Rajpoot 1-0-8-0, Tyagi 4-0-35-1, Stokes 3-0-27-0, Gopal 4-0-14-1, Tewatia 4-0-18-1.
Ben Stokes b Chahar 19
Robin Uthappa c Dhoni b Hazlewood 4
Sanju Samson c Dhoni b Chahar 0
Steve Smith not out 26
Jos Buttler not out 70
Extras: (LB-6, W-1) 7
Total: (for 3 wickets in 17.3 overs) 126
Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-28, 3-28
Bowling: Deepak Chahar 4-1-18-2, Josh Hazlewood 4-0-19-1, Ravindra Jadeja 1.3-0-11-0, Shardul Thakur 4-0-34-0, Sam Curran 1-0-6-0, Piyush Chawla 3-0-32-0.