Rajasthan Royals on a roll, beat Chennai Super Kings by 17 runs

Naman Ojha hammered a 49-ball 80 before his bowling colleagues produced a disciplined performance to help Rajasthan Royals to a thumping 17-run victory over Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.

Electing to bat, Rajasthan Royals scored a challenging 177 for eight, thanks mainly to wicketkepeer-batsman Ojha’s blistering 49-ball 80 which was laced with six fours and five sixes and then restricted CSK to 160 for six to notch up their fourth win on the trot and fourth out of seven matches in IPL 3.

Chasing 178 in front of a packed crowd at Sardar Patel Stadium at Motera here, CSK lost wickets in regular intervals and none could come up with a big score. They also failed to take advantage of the largess given by butter-fingered Royals fielders who dropped three catches.

Opener Murali Vijay, who was dropped on 15, top-scored with 42 while Albie Morkel made a cameo of 12-ball 28 which had one four and three sixes.

Other CSK batsmen got the starts but failed to play a big innings. Matthew Hayden (19), Suresh Raina (14), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (21) and S Badrinath (25) all looked good for a big score before fizzling out.

Fast bowler Shaun Tait, who generated a lot of pace with some of his deliveries clocking above 150kmph, continued his good form and he was the pick of the Royals bowler, taking two wickets for 22.

Yusuf Pathan also bowled a tight line and length, picking one wicket and conceding 26 from his four overs.

Warne, who produced a gem of a delivery to remove Suresh Raina — who was dropped twice, returned with figures of one for 34. He was impressive till he bled 20 runs in the 18th over with Morkel hitting three consecutive sixes.

Sunday’s loss was CSK’s fourth on the trot and they have now won just two of their seven matches.

CSK got off well in their run chase with openers Hayden and Vijay hitting a couple of boundaries in the initial overs.

But Yusuf removed Hayden as the Australian went for a big hit but failed to connect properly to be caught by the bowler himself in the fourth over.

Vijay and Suresh Raina put up healthy 51-run partnership for the second wicket before the latter was bowled by a gem of a Warne delivery for 14 in the 10th over.

Skipper Dhoni then built a 44-run partnership with Badrinath which ended in disaster with the run out of the CSK captain after a collision with his batting colleague.

Dhoni nicked the ball to mid-wicket where Adam Voges stopped it and as he turned back for the second run collided with Badrinath mid-pitch, loses his bat, keeps running only to be run out. CSK were 123 for four then in the 16th over.

Badrinath, who was having some good shots, could not continue for long and his innings was cut short in the 19th over, caught at mid-wicket by Yusuf off the bowling of Tait.

Morkel was the last man out in the penultimate over, falling to Tait after the South African had hit three successive sixes in the previous over.

Earlier, Ojha hit a blistering 49-ball 80 while his opening partner Michael Lumb contributed 16-ball 30 to take Rajasthan Royals to 177 for eight.

The Royals openers forged a brief and brisk 47-run opening partnership inside four overs that provided a good platform for a big total.

Morkel opened the bowling for CSK and a nonchalant Lumb dismissed his third delivery over long-on ropes to signal his intention. Ojha responded by hitting a boundary off the last delivery of the over to open his account and both were seen making merry at Chennai’s expense.

Morkel returned for his second over and Lumb hit him for a four, following it up with a massive six before he fell to a slower ball and returned just when he was looking dangerous.

Ojha added 53 runs with Faiz Fazal (17) in seven overs before his partner fell to Shadab Jakati.

Jakati dealt the Royals a bigger blow in his next over, removing Yusuf Pathan (8) to reduce the home side to 117 for three in the 13th over.

Ojha, however, was unstoppable. Twice he hit Muttiah Muralitharan out of the ground, a treatment he meted out to Suresh Raina as well.

Having completed his fifty in just 32 balls, Ojha hit Jakati for two sixes in the high-yielding 17th over before he fell to Thilan Thushara in the next over.

Adam Voges chipped in with a characteristically cheeky 19-ball 20 and Royals lost three wickets — including two run out dismissals — in that crazy last over from Thushara which yielded just seven runs.

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