The Chennai Super Kings smashed the living daylights out of their last two opponents, and so, the Rajasthan Royals decided to give a taste of their own medicine. With four wins in four, the Royals came high on confidence and boy did they put that confidence to full use, handing the previously unbeaten CSK a scathing eight-wicket loss in IPL 2015.
Choosing to bat first, CSK would have envisaged the kind of hitting they put the Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians bowlers through in their last couple of games, but the moment Brendon McCullum fell in the third over – inevitably to a spinner in the shape of Pravin Tambe – you knew this script was going to be different.
And so it very much proved to be as Suresh Raina fell in the fifth over, then Faf Du Plessis, to a wonderful catch from Chris Morris, who kept his place in the team despite the returning Shane Watson, in the seventh and finally Dwayne Smith (40, 29b, 3x4, 2x6) in the tenth, leaving CSK with plenty to do on 65/4.
Dwayne Bravo (62 n.o., 36b, 8x4, 1x6) and MS Dhoni (31, 37b, 4x4) did just that, reasonably well, putting on an unbeaten 91 in 10.5 overs together, with the former very much the aggressor in the partnership.
While Bravo caught fire in some style towards the final five, smashing some delightful boundaries through the offside and a big six over midwicket as well, Dhoni's struggles finding that six-hitting groove continued. The CSK skipper's inability to go smash-bang at will is very much becoming the rule rather than the exception, and so it was again, as that big bat of his just failed to make the desired contact way too often.
Despite Dhoni's struggles, however, CSK did well to get to 156/4 in their 20 overs, even if they would have liked another 15 runs or so more – not that it would have mattered one bit, of course, not with the manner in which Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson (73, 47b, 6x4, 4x6) went about their batting.
Rahane has been the batsmen of IPL 2015 so far, making 40+ scores at will and that form continued, as the opener found his aesthetic flow to perfect effect. Watson, playing his first match of IPL 2015, did take a little while to get into his zone, popping up the ball in the air a couple of times, with the white cherry just evading the fielders, but once he found his rhythm, he was his usual brutal best again.
A run chase always looks ridiculously easy when you get a big opening partnership in – like CSK did in their last game against the Mumbai Indians – and as easy as they come it was as Rahane and Watson put on 144 runs together in 16.1 overs to ease the Rajasthan Royals to an eight-wicket win – Watson and Steven Smith, yes he can get out, fell late in the match -- their fifth straight in IPL 2015, with 10 balls to spare.