Chennai: Another half-century by Faf du Plessis helped Chennai Super Kings edge Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in another nail-biter on Saturday, which took them from the fifth to third position in the IPL 5 points table.
The South African du Plessis continued his good form, scoring 73 of just 52 balls – his third half-century of the season – as the hosts chased down a 147-run target with a couple off the last ball of the match. Suresh Raina (26) supported du Plessis as the duo shared 61 for the second wicket before Kevon Cooper, who came into the Rajasthan side in place of Johan Botha, struck twice in his third over to keep the visitors in the game. He first had du Plessis caught behind by Shreevats Goswami and then had Raina grabbed by Ajinkya Rahane at the straight fence.
MS Dhoni (15) and Dwayne Bravo (16) then kept their cool at the end, with the Chennai skipper hitting the winning two runs off the last delivery of Stuart Binny’s over. This was Rajasthan’s third loss in seven games, but they remain second in the team standings.
Earlier, Nuwan Kulasekara bowled brilliantly at the death to restrict Rajasthan to a modest total after Rahul Dravid won the toss and elected to bat on what appeared to be a slow Chepauk wicket. The Sri Lankan medium pacer gave away just eight runs in his last two overs, finishing his spell by taking the wicket of Owais Shah, who once again made a major contribution, scoring 52 off 43. The Englishman was well supported by Ashok Menaria (36), although the decision of sending him ahead of the in-form Brad Hodge robbed Rajasthan of 10-15 runs in the end.
Rajasthan started off well with both Rahane (15) and Dravid (26) once again looking in good nick. The duo shared 36 runs for the opening wicket before Rahane was caught by Kulasekara while trying to clear mid-off. His dismissal brought Shah in the middle and the right-hander took seven balls to open his account before hitting Shadab Jakati over mid-on for a six. Rahul Dravid, who was going nicely at the other hand, hit three boundaries and a six before his 26-run innings was cut short by Jakati.
Shah and Menaria then got together and stitched a 92-run stand for the third wicket. Shah hit three sixes and four boundaries while Menaria also contributed with two fours and a maximum. But Chennai pulled things back at the end, conceding only 17 runs in the last three overs that proved decisive in the end.