All-round Jadeja downs Royals
Chennai Super Kings 140 for 6 (Dwayne Smith 50, Jadeja 36*, Bhatia 2-13) beat Rajasthan Royals 133 (Jadeja 4-33) by seven runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
On a day that the usual Chennai Super Kings heavy batting artillery failed to fire, their bowling, led by the versatile Ravindra Jadeja's four-wicket haul, carved out a seven-run win against Rajasthan Royals on a slow Dubai pitch.
Defending a middling total, Jadeja's two wickets in two balls in his first over swung the pendulum decisively in favour of Super Kings, the wickets being those of Shane Watson and Sanju Samson. Royals never really recovered from the jolt and despite some happy hitting towards the end, disintegrated to their second defeat.
When Super Kings were asked to bat, Brendon McCullum mis-hitting a number of deliveries seemed a case of the batsman struggling but if anything, it was actually an indication of the nature of the pitch which wasn't as batsmen friendly as thought to be before the start of the match. McCullum was eventually out to a stunning catch by Steven Smith behind midwicket, hitting a length delivery from James Faulkner higher than longer.
That slowness of the pitch didn't seem to bother Dwayne Smith, however, as he raced to his second half-century in three matches with a flurry of big hits. After carefully playing out his first 18 deliveries for 17 runs, Smith used the pace the seamers offered him and carted the ball around the ground, his next nine deliveries bringing him 33 runs.
Smith reached his fifty with a six but was done in by the sponginess of the surface in the very next delivery as he tried to force the ball over the infield, but only spooned a catch to mid-off. What followed was a period of play controlled by the Royals' slower bowlers. He wouldn't have known at the time, but he did end up playing the defining innings of the match as no one from either team came close to his strike rate of 178.57.
The canny Rajat Bhatia, who later joked he was probably bowling "slower than the pitch", served up his most economical spell in the IPL of 4-0-13-2 - all 13 of them in singles - hardly giving any pace for the batsmen to work with. At the other end, Pravin Tambe removed the dangerous MS Dhoni to push Super Kings from a comfortable 59 for 1 to a perilous 74 for 5. Was it not for a fighting 36 from Jadeja, Super Kings would have had to settle for a much lower total than what they eventually got.
The task at the start of the second innings would have been considered manageable given the skill-level in Royals' batting and the knowledge of how the pitch was going to play. Though Royals lost Abhishek Nayar early to a suicidal run, Rahane appeared comfortable as he regularly employed late deflections to manoeuvre the ball. Samson was impressive, launching Ben Hilfenhaus for two clean sixes to finish the fifth over on 37 for 1.
The introduction of spin in the sixth over had the same effect as in the first innings with Rahane top-edging a sweep to deep square leg. Dhoni tossed the ball to Jadeja in the next over that pushed Royals to the edge of the precipice.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo