There was huge drama in Jaipur on Thursday as Chennai Super Kings defeated Rajasthan Royals off the last ball for a four-wicket IPL win.
Needing 18 runs off the last over bowled by Ben Stokes, Ravindra Jadeja hit the first ball for a six before the Englishman hit back by castling top-scorer MS Dhoni for 58 with a sizzling yorker.
The next ball saw major controversy as a waist-high slower ball from Stokes to new man Mitchell Santner was nearly signalled a no-ball by umpire Ulhas Gandhe before the square leg official Bruce Oxenford overturned the call.
Dhoni was livid as he stormed to the pitch, pointing to umpire Gandhe angrily and exchanging a few heated words with the umpires and even Stokes.
The equation came down to three needed off the final ball and Santner got down on one knee and deposited a full wide ball from Stokes down the ground for a maximum. With the result, Dhoni became the first captain to 100 wins as IPL captain.
Rajasthan Royals had earlier scored 151-7 and had Chennai in all sorts of trouble at 24-4. But Ambati Rayudu (57 off 47 balls) and Dhoni (58 off 43) added 95 for the fifth wicket to set the stage for a thriller.
Chennai Super Kings have grown accustomed to their bowlers giving them control up front. Royals openers Jos Buttler and Ajinkya Rahane tried to unsettle that plan, going after the new ball in the Powerplay. Buttler hit three successive boundaries off seamer Shardul Thakur but went for a fourth, only to get caught at cover for a 10-ball 23. It became 48-2 after four overs and Chennai began to regain control.
Spinners fight back
Chennai brought in Kiwi left-arm spinner Santner to give them greater control and despite going for three successive fours in his opening over, Santner pulled things back by having Sanju Samson caught at deep midwicket.
From the other end, left-arm spinner Jadeja was almost impossible to get away, dismissing Rahul Tripathi – caught at point – and then having Steve Smith out at deep midwicket.
Veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir chipped in as Rajasthan went from the sixth over to the 15th – all spin – moving from 53-2 to 103-6.
Shreyas Gopal has made an impact this IPL with the leg-spin. But on Thursday, it was with the blade that made a big impression. Rajasthan looked like finishing at an unimpressive 130-odd. But off the last eight balls of the innings, Gopal managed two boundaries and a six off Chahar and Thakur, taking the total past 150.
If Chennai thought it was going to be a straightforward chase, they were in for a rude shock. Seamer Dhawal Kulkarni had out of touch opener Shane Watson in a pickle and castled him with a late away swinger.
Suresh Raina was then caught napping by Jofra Archer at the non-striker’s end as a lazy bit of running saw the southpaw run out. When Faf du Plessis holed out at midwicket, Chennai were 15-3.
Ben Stokes then produced the first moment of the match when he latched on to a fierce cut shot by Kedar Jadhav to pull off arguably the catch of the tournament. Rajasthan were on top at 24-4. But Dhoni and Rayudu went about the repair work with dedication and the last over mayhem saw Chennai seal their sixth win of the season.
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