All-round Chennai cruise to fourth straight win
Chennai Super Kings 149 for 2 (Hussey 79*, Raina 61) beat Rajasthan Royals 147 for 6 (Dravid 66, Watson 32, Jakati 2-22) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Chennai Super Kings continued their dominance at home and eased to a fourth-successive win in conditions where power play took a backseat to opportunistic strokemaking, and stamina and steady consolidation were more crucial than short outbursts of runs. The sweltering Chennai heat and a slow pitch made it a tiring ordeal for batsmen, and it seemed at one stage that Rajasthan Royals, riding on the back of Rahul Dravid's fluent half-century, would have the better of the contest. But an inspired recovery from Chennai's faltering bowlers and a controlled approach to the chase from Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey set up a comfortable win - their fifth in five games at home this season.
The Rajasthan openers, Dravid and Shane Watson, had displayed excellent determination to occupy the crease and set a strong foundation to their team's innings. The pair ran well between wickets, rotated the strike, picked the gaps to scramble back for the twos, before Dravid took charge against the spinners. He pulled R Ashwin twice in an over to the midwicket fence, reverse-swept and punched Suraj Randiv for three fours in an over to different parts of the ground. The highlight of the first ten overs was his inside-out drive over extra cover off Shadab Jakati, as Rajasthan coasted to 86 in the first ten overs.
The trigger for the fightback was a brilliant return catch from Jakati off Watson, as he put his hands up and intercepted a ferocious thwack back towards him in the 11th over. Despite an encouraging run-rate, and with plenty of ammunition left in the batting for a surge at the death, the desire for clearing the ropes overrode any thought of building the innings for a few more overs. Ashok Menaria holed out needlessly against Ashwin, and Johan Botha, who had picked a cheeky boundary, succumbed when he tried to use force against Jakati. Dravid was swimming in sweat in the Chennai heat and fell to a tiring shot, and not long after, the seamers returned to contain the flow further. A couple of fours from Ross Taylor was offset by a double-strike from Albie Morkel in the penultimate over, and Rajasthan only managed 61 in the last ten, losing six wickets.
The wicket of M Vijay was an early boost for Rajasthan but some sloppy fielding, a difficult opportunity that was grassed, and the maturity of the Raina-Hussey combine put paid to Rajasthan's hopes. Stuart Binny conceded eight runs in the field, through a misfield and an overthrow, and was listless with the ball. Raina was let off by Watson diving full stretch in the deep, but otherwise there weren't any opportunities.
Like the Chennai bowlers had done in the first ten overs, Rajasthan's attack erred in line and length, giving the batsmen timely opportunities to pierce the field. Siddharth Trivedi bowled too often down the leg side, and the more accurate Watson and Botha were worked around. With both batsmen settling in well, left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi was carted for two sixes in the 11th over - the same passage in the Rajasthan innings had marked a decisive turn of events. As the shoulders drooped, Binny doled freebies outside off which Hussey cut for successive fours before delivering the same treatment to Menaria on the leg side. Raina's dismissal was against the run of play, but his knock, along with Hussey's, had made a relatively one-sided contest out of a potential cracker.
Siddhartha Talya is a sub editor at ESPNcricinfo