Jos Buttler starred with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 95 off 60 balls as Rajasthan Royals kept their playoff hopes alive with a 4-wicket win over the Chennai Super Kings at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Friday.
Chasing 177 to win, Buttler got off to an absolute flier in the powerplay as he put on 48-runs for the opening wicket with new partner - Ben Stokes - who was opening for the first time in T20s.
Stokes contributed on 11 off those 48 as he failed to find any kind of form. Captain Ajinkya Rahane departed soon after but Buttler kept going strong. He put on a 46-run stand with Sanju Samson for the third wicket. A mix-up accounted for Samson and it seemed Chennai had gotten the upper hand at the right time.
With Buttler struggling to find any sort of timing, onus lay on other batsmen. Debutant Prashant Chopra departed for 8 after a couple of boundaries. Stuart Binny departed for 22 off 17 balls, hitting a four and a six as Buttler continued to fight on at the other end. Krishnappa Gowtham hit two sixes as he scored 13 off 4 balls to turn the game around.
With 12 required off the final Bravo over, Buttler took strike and delivered as he hit the fourth ball of the over for a maximum to guide his team through to victory.
Wickets were shared around for Chennai, with Shardul Thakur being the standout bowler with figures of 1/22. Batting first, Chennai lost Ambari Rayudu (12) early as he played one onto the stumps off the bowling of Jofra Archer.
However, Suresh Raina came out all guns blazing, tackling the spinners effectively and making full use of the hard ball. Watson played the supporting role as the two put on 86 runs for the second wicket, just when it seemed that the Aussie would get going, Archer came back into the attack and accounted for him on 39.
Raina then completed his 34th IPL half-century, second in all-time list behind Gambhir/Warner who have 36 half-centuries to their name. He was dismissed for 52, with Kiwi Ish Sodhi getting one to bounce a bit extra. Raina hit six fours and one six in his innings.
The pitch got more and more difficult to score off as the ball got softer. Dhoni and Billings dealt in singles and doubles, with boundaries hard to come by. CSK, who looked good for 190-odd at one stage, ended on 176/4 in their 20 overs.
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