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17th Match (N), Chennai, April 12, 2023, Indian Premier League
(20 ov, T:176) 172/6

RR won by 3 runs

Player Of The Match
30 (22) & 2/25
Cricinfo's MVP
109.57 ptsImpact List

Royals hold off Dhoni and Jadeja in grandstand finish

Sandeep Sharma's last-ball yorker made Royals the first team to defend a sub-190 total this season

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
Rajasthan Royals 175 for 8 (Buttler 52, Padikkal 38, Jadeja 2-21, Deshpande 2-37, Akash 2-40) beat Chennai Super Kings 172 for 6 (Conway 50, Dhoni 32*, Ashwin 2-25, Chahal 2-27) by three runs
It was set up perfectly. The whistles at Chepauk were getting louder with each moment as MS Dhoni took strike with 21 needed off six balls. Two wides later, Sandeep Sharma nailed a yorker, before erring in length and seeing Dhoni wallop back-to-back leg-side sixes.
Dhoni was leading Chennai Super Kings for the 200th time in the IPL and he had the chance to script another fairytale, and the perfect finish loomed even after Sandeep went around the wicket and pulled things back, bringing the equation down to five needed off the last ball. This was still Dhoni territory, but Sandeep nailed another perfect yorker from around the stumps and Rajasthan Royals eked out a three-run win to go top of the table after four games.
Super Kings needed an improbable 54 off 18 balls with Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni still new to the crease. Dhoni began the assault with a four and a six in Adam Zampa's last over before Jadeja took over in a 19-run penultimate over bowled by Jason Holder, hitting him for a four and two sixes.
Sandeep, however, just about kept his calm and Royals became the first side to defend a sub-190 total this season.

Ashwin, Chahal, Zampa storm CSK's spin fortress

Chasing 176, Super Kings lost the prolific Ruturaj Gaikwad in the third over. But Devon Conway and Ajinkya Rahane added 68 in 43 balls to keep the chase on track. Rahane, who had scored a blazing half-century against Mumbai Indians in his last outing, was quick off the blocks again, pulling Jason Holder through midwicket and slinking down the track to deposit R Ashwin over the long-off boundary while rushing to a 19-ball 31.
In Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal and Impact Player Adam Zampa, however, Royals had a spin attack made for Chepauk conditions, and they extracted plenty of purchase even with dew starting to kick in. Ashwin's dismissal of Rahane turned the tide for Royals. From 78 for 1 in the 10th over, Super Kings slumped to 122 for 6 at the end of the 17th.
Zampa conceded 14 in the 18th over, when Dhoni went after him, but even including that, Royals' spinners conceded just 95 in 12 overs while taking five wickets, while their Super Kings counterparts went for 84 in 10 while taking three.

Buttler and Padikkal set the tone

Yashasvi Jaiswal has been in red-hot form for Royals this season, and he threatened to go on another boundary spree in the powerplay when he hit two fours off the left-arm quick Akash Singh in the first over, after Super Kings elected to bowl. But Tushar Deshpande, Super Kings' go-to bowler in Deepak Chahar's absence, prised Jaiswal out in the next over. Royals kept the left-right combination going by promoting Devdutt Padikkal, who sat out the match against Delhi Capitals, to No. 3.
Padikkal and Jos Buttler went after Maheesh Theekshana - who was playing his first game of the season - hitting him for four fours and a six in his first two overs, both inside the powerplay. That got them into groove for a 77-run second-wicket partnership off just 41 balls, which took Royals to a formidable 88 for 1 in the ninth over.

Bowlers keep CSK in the game

Jadeja helped Super Kings claw back with the wickets of Padikkal and Sanju Samson in the space of three balls, and Royals responded with the now familiar tactic of promoting Ashwin up the order. The scoring rate dipped for a while, with Royals failing to find the boundary in five successive overs, before Ashwin broke the drought with a slashed four off Theekshana in the 14th. He then swatted Akash for successive sixes in the 15th, before falling later in the over for a 22-ball 30.
Buttler, who had been 34 off 17 at the time he lost Padikkal, didn't hit another boundary, and eventually fell for a 52 off 36 balls. In the process he also crossed 3000 runs in the IPL, becoming the third-quickest to the mark in terms of innings taken.
The ostensible intent behind the Ashwin promotion was to delay Shimron Hetmyer's entry, and he came in at roughly his preferred time, with five overs remaining. He did his bit at the finish, smacking an unbeaten 30 off 18, but there was little support from the other end during his time in the middle, as Royals only managed 40 in their last five overs.
Having at one stage seemed on course for 200, they finished on 175 for 8, with Deshpande dismissing Holder and Zampa in the last over .

Impact Player Strategy

Royals brought in Zampa as their Impact Player: he walked out to bat at No. 10 to face the last ball of their innings, replacing Buttler. The finger injury Buttler picked up earlier in the competition could have played a part in his removal. Super Kings, meanwhile, yanked off Sisanda Magala, whose two overs went for 14, after he injured a finger in his right hand while taking the catch to dismiss Ashwin. Super Kings subbed in Ambati Rayudu, who batted at No. 6 and lasted just two balls.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Win Probability
RR 100%
100%50%100%RR InningsCSK Innings

Over 20 • CSK 172/6

RR won by 3 runs
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