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.
Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni will be eyeing a major milestone during Thursday’s IPL clash against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur.
Dhoni is on 99 wins as IPL captain and will be targeting his 100th when the men in yellow take on the struggling Royals.
Rajasthan have just one win under their belt after five games while table toppers Chennai have lost just one in six.
Will Dhoni reach the coveted milestone tonight? Catch the live updates below.
Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals lock horns in what promises to be an exciting contest. The winner of this tie could rise closer to the top at the halfway mark of the league phase of Indian Premier League 2019.
When the two teams faced each other in the reverse fixture, a super over was needed to pick out a winner. Going by that match, an exciting contest could be on the cards on Friday.
We take a look at some of the talking points ahead of the big game.
KKR all about Dre-Russ
Kolkata have done well in the IPL this season and deserve the second spot. They have lost two games so far – a crushing defeat against Chennai Super Kings and a narrow one against Delhi.
This game will be a test of character for Kolkata as it is against a team they have lost to earlier, right after they succumbed to a defeat against Chennai. It will be interesting to see how Dinesh Karthik’s men respond.
Andre Russell appeared to have hurt his wrist during his 44-ball 50 in a losing cause against Chennai. His participation against Delhi is still in doubt and his potential absence could come as a massive blow to the hosts.
To say that they have been reliant on the Windies star would be an understatement. Russell has practically carried his team to the second position.
The all-rounder has scored 257 runs in five innings this season and 150 of those have come in sixes alone. His average (128.5) and strike rate (212.39) are really impressive, but it does point to bigger issue.
What will Kolkata do when Russell hits a slump? Nitish Rana showed some initial spark, but failed to build on it. Chris Lynn impressed against Rajasthan Royals, chasing a low target. Robin Uthappa and captain Karthik have been average and Shubman Gill is yet to make a statement.
Carlos Brathwaite is most likely to replace Russell if his injury keeps him out. So, this game could truly test Kolkata’s character.
Rabada on a roll
23-year-old Kagiso Rabada has been the talk of the town thanks to an incredible start to his 2019 campaign. The youngster was retained by Delhi despite not featuring in a single game for them last season.
The current owner of the purple cap has scalped 11 wickets this season, two more than any other player. He has intimidated world class players like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers with his fiery pace and accuracy.
As always, the South African will be leading Delhi’s bowling attack, as he looks to build on his four-wicket haul against Royal challengers Bangalore.
It was Rabada who made the difference when KKR and Delhi took the game to the super over in their last face-off. The pacer removed Russell in the super over to help Delhi successfully defend a low score of just 10 runs.
It’s fair to say that all eyes will be on Rabada who seems hungry for more.
KKR: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell/Carlos Brathwaite, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna, Harry Gurney
DC: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (c), Colin Ingram, Rishabh Pant (wk), Chris Morris, Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane