Jaipur: Shane Watson once again stamped his authority with 70 off 34 balls to propel Rajasthan Royals to an impressive five-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings that took them to number two in the IPL 6 points table. The victory helped Rajasthan touch the magical figure of 20 points after 14 matches.
Chennai's openers - Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay - were subdued in their approach as the pitch was offering some assistance to the Rajasthan pacemen. Vikramjeet Malik, playing his first game for Rajasthan, made a good impression by swingng the ball both ways. Vijay broke the shackles when he drove Watson on the up for four in the sixth over and got another boundary in the same over when James Faulkner misfielded in the covers.
Hussey didn't take long to get back to his best as he pulled Malik for a cracking four. He then pulled Siddharth Trivedi in the eighth over that yielded 15 runs, with two boundaries from Vijay as well.
But when things were looking under control for Chennai, Rajasthan struck with a spree of wickets. First Stuart Binny cleaned up Hussey in the 12th over and then Kevon Cooper got the prized wickets of Suresh Raina (1) and MS Dhoni (2) in one over.
Cooper, who took 3 for 23 in Rajasthan's win against Kings XI Punjab a few nights earlier, tempted Raina and Dhoni to play big strokes very early in their innings by pitching the ball up and getting it to move.
Vijay kept the score board moving by stealing singles and turning the strike over. He got to his fifty by clipping Cooper off his pads for four, but got run out when a nimble-footed Dishant Yagnik sent a direct throw from behind the stumps.
Chennai were looking for a good finish at the end and Dwayne Bravo provided them that by making a quick-fire 23 off 11. But the Rajasthan bowling was so sharp that the Chennai batsmen couldn't hit a single six in their innings.
Rajasthan's chase was as subdued as Chennai's innings, with both Mohit Sharma and Jason Holder extracting the maximum assistance from the pitch. With the number of dot balls creeping up, Rahane tried an expensive shot which went to Vijay at mid-on. Holder shattered the stumps of Faulkner, who flopped as a pinch-hitter for the second time.
With Sanju Samson's wicket for a duck, Rajasthan were in disarray and the hosts expected something miraculous from captain Rahul Dravid (22 off 28) and Watson. Dravid played a few crisp strokes and Watson too hit the first six of the match off Bravo. But Dravid didn't last long and was caught behind off Chris Morris.
That brought Binny (41* off 23) to the wicket and the scoring rate picked up suddenly. He smashed R Ashwin over deep midwicket for a maximum and taking a leaf from his book, Watson too cleared the deep midwicket fence twice in the same over that yielded 23 runs.
That over proved to be the turning point as the runs came in a flood after that. Binny Smashed Morris for two fours and Watson deposited Holder over the long-off fence. If Ashwin's over yielded 23, Bravo's second over leaked 22, with Watson hitting him for three huge sixes.
He followed three sixes with four boundaries in the next over of Morris, getting to his fifty in just 25 balls. He fell for 70 while trying to finish the game early though. But the damage was already done as Binny hit the final nail in the coffin by sending Ravindra Jadeja over extra cover for a six.