Sharjah: Rajasthan Royals (RR) began their IPL-13 campaign in style beating three-time champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by 16 runs here Tuesday. RR posted an impressive 216 for seven in their allotted 20 overs riding on brilliant knocks from Sanju Samson (74, 32b, 1×4, 9×6) and skipper Steve Smith (69, 47b, 4×4, 4×6). They then restricted CSK to 200 for six in 20 overs.
Any chase where the required asking rate from the start is above 10 runs per over, the job becomes very difficult. A lot would have depended for CSK on the shoulders of Shane Watson (33, 21b, 1×4, 4×6). However, just when he looked like turning ominous, he fell to leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia (3/37) who was very impressive. A number of CSK batsmen got starts like Murali Vijay (21) and Kedar Jadhav (22). However, both fell trying to accelerate.
In came MS Dhoni (29 n o, 17b, 3×6) after the fall of the fifth wicket. It was highly unexpected that he would conjure up some magic with the asking rate a shade over 17. And it did not happen. MSD has been out of cricket for more than 12 months but even then there were flashes of brilliance as he hit Tom Curran for three successive sixes in the last over of the game.
Faf du Plessis (72, 37b, 1×4, 7×6) tried his best, but with wickets falling regularly at the other end, he found the going very tough.
Earlier Samson and skipper Smith added a quickfire 121 runs for the second wicket as they plundered bowlers ate will.
Sent into bat, Rajasthan lost young opener Yashasvi Jaiswal (six) 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 looked in great nick while Smith, returning to competitive cricket after recovering from concussion suffered before the ODI series against England also was at ease against both pacers and spinner.
However, it was Jofra Archer (27, 8b, 4×4) who took RR past the 200-run mark. He hit a hapless Lungi Ngidi for four sixes in the last over of the innings as the hapless South African was plundered for 30 runs.
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. The two bled 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. He now holds the record of second quickest 50 in the IPL jointly with England’s Owais Shah who achieved the same distinction in 2012 against RCB. England’s Jos Buttler had hit an 18-ball half century against Delhi Capitals in 2018 to hold the record of quickest half century in the IPL.
After some great hitting, Samson fell in search one too many, caught by Deepak Chahar off Ngidi. Soon after, David Miller departed in search of 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 19th over in search of big hits.
Brief scores: Rajasthan Royals 216 for 7 in 20 overs (Sanju Samson 74, Steve Smith 69, Jofra Archer 27 n o, Sam Curran 3/31) beat Chennai Super Kings 200 for 6 in 20 overs (Faf du Plessis 72, MS Dhoni 29 n o, Rahul Tewatia 3/37) by 16 runs.