Royals No. 2 after Watson assault
Rajasthan Royals 144 for 5 (Watson 70, Binny 41*) beat Chennai Super Kings 141 for 4 (Vijay 55, Cooper 2-32) by 5 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
At the mid-innings break, Michael Hussey had thought the 141-run total put up by Chennai Super Kings was competitive because the pitch was aiding seam bowling, but he was wary of the "Watson factor". In the end, it was Shane Watson who turned out to be the difference with a 34-ball 70, as Rajasthan Royals registered their eighth win in Jaipur - a cleansheet - and rose to No. 2 in the points table, behind the Super Kings only on net run rate.
Royals had been left scarred by 10 overs of menacing bowling by the Super Kings' seamers and were left looking at a mountain to climb. With 93 required off the last 10, and Rahul Dravid already back in the dugout, a way back looked difficult. Then Dhoni introduced R Ashwin in the 11th, and the match turned on its head. The third ball of the over was slog-swept by Stuart Binny and it just cleared Ravindra Jadeja at deep midwicket, but it was the fifth and the sixth deliveries that signalled the start of the onslaught. Watson swept both comfortably over the midwicket boundary, making it 23 runs of that over, Ashwin's most expensive in all IPL. It was the first over of spin in the game.
It seemed like a switch had been flicked on, and Dhoni's immediate reaction to go back to his seamers in the next over didn't really make a difference to the batsmen. Binny cut and flicked Morris for a couple of boundaries, and then Watson took over. He first drove the impressive Jason Holder for a six over long-off, then bludgeoned two of Dwayne Bravo's next over. The switch in gears left everyone gobsmacked. Morris lost his line in the next over and was duly hit for four boundaries in all directions, the first of which brought Watson's half-century, off just 25 balls. Royals scored 81 between overs 11 and 15. By the time Watson was dismissed, the job had been done. Binny finished the chase with six over long-off to remain unbeaten on 41.
The start of the innings had been nothing like the finish. Royals were peppered with pace and bounce from the Super Kings fast bowlers and they struggled as MS Dhoni maintained pressure with slip fielders. It was only Dravid who seemed adept enough to handle the bowling, similar to how Michael Hussey had steered the first innings for Super Kings, but even he edged a lot.
Royals, who had won five straight matches chasing, had asked Super Kings to bat on a spicy pitch and Hussey and Vijay played the initial period watchfully to thwart the bowlers, then raised the 11th half-century stand between them to set up a strong base for the hitters to follow. But Kevon Cooper struck twice to remove Suresh Raina and Dhoni, derailing the Super Kings' innings and the pitch was too hot to handle for the rest. Had it not been for a brief cameo by Bravo, Super Kings would not have had a competitive total. In the end, however, Royals won with 17 balls to spare.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo