Tanvir bowls Rajasthan to first place
A red-hot spell from Sohail Tanvir during which he took 6 for 14 - the best figures in official Twenty20 cricket - decimated the Chennai Super Kings for 109 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. That reduced what was a clash for top spot in the Indian Premier League into a one-sided rout as the Rajasthan Royals chased down the smallest target of the tournament to win their fifth consecutive game, with eight wickets in hand.
Tanvir exploited the seamer-friendly conditions, there was swing and bounce, and gave Rajasthan a perfect start, nailing both openers for ducks in the first over. Parthiv Patel played across the line and missed an incutter first ball and Stephen Fleming fell in similar fashion four deliveries later. Both those wickets were to balls that came into the left-hander but Tanvir picked up his third with the one that went away and induced an outside edge from S Vidyut in his second over. Chennai were reeling at 11 for 3 and Rajasthan's dominance was emphasised by a rare sight in Twenty20 cricket - a slip cordon populated by three fielders.
Fourteen runs came off the fifth over, bowled by Siddarth Trivedi, and when S Badrinath played an orthodox square-drive and a flick to get take boundaries off the sixth, Chennai seemed to be recovering. However Watson, who used the bouncer effectively, took a simple return catch after Badrinath top-edged a miscued pull. Chennai had been pushed further back just when they were taking half a step forward.
With Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the two highest run-getters in Chennai's line-up, batting together a competitive total was gettable. However, Rajasthan captain Shane Warne further dented Chennai's hopes when he won the battle against his opposite number Dhoni: his first ball pitched outside leg and spun right across Dhoni's off stump and two deliveries later, a flighted leg break took the outside edge to Graeme Smith at slip.
Rania and Albie Morkel staged a recovery of sorts after Chennai were reduced to 44 for 5. After having played out a few economical overs, Morkel slog-swept Warne for two fours through square-leg and swatted a straight six in an over that cost 17. Yusuf Pathan even dropped a sitter at long-on to give Raina a reprieve but the batsman didn't capitalise, holing out to Tanvir at long-off soon after.
Just as in his first spell, Tanvir struck with the first delivery of his second as well, this time Morkel was bowled as he slogged across the line. The tail found Tanvir's skiddy pace and immaculate line too hard to negotiate and Chennai were dismissed in the 19th over, a drastic fall in batting fortunes after the departure of Australians Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey.
If Chennai were to make a match of it, they needed to take every chance coming their way. Joginder Sharma, though, spilled a simple chance at mid-off when Makhaya Ntini, after starting off with a maiden, had Smith miscuing a pull. Twenty one extras, the second highest conceded in the tournament, didn't help their cause either.
Swapnil Asnodkar, full of confidence after his Man-of-the-Match performance on his IPL debut in the previous game, pummelled his first ball straight back down the ground for four and slammed Manpreet Gony for consecutive boundaries in the fourth over during a fluent 32.
At the other end, Smith was skipping down the track and muscling boundaries square of the wicket, and when a wayward seventh over from Morkel cost 14 runs, Rajasthan had raced to 58 for no loss. It wasn't until this stage, after the horse had bolted, that Chennai brought on their best bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan, but the task of bringing Chennai back into the contest was beyond him. Rajasthan lost a couple of wickets but, with the help of some lusty blows from Pathan and Watson, the target was overhauled with 5.4 overs to spare.
After winning their first four matches, this was Chennai's second consecutive loss and the huge margin of defeat meant that they slipped to fourth place in the space of two days.
Siddarth Ravindran is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo