The Chennai Super Kings and the Rajasthan Royals, two very iconic teams in IPL history clashed this time around. For Rajasthan Royals, a victory in this match would ensure their place in the playoffs whereas, for the CSK, they have nothing to lose as they are already got eliminated in this series.
The CSK fans had a desire of seeing the team finish well at the end to have a hiatus of disappointments. It was also expected that CSK's victory would change the game among the top four. So, it was all set for an interesting battle. Friday's match was hosted by Brabourne stadium and it was the last match for both the teams in the league. Chennai Super Kings won the toss and elected to bat first, only to endure yet another fallout of the opening stand.
Ruturaj was dismissed for two runs after which Conway and Moeen Ali got into a wonderful partnership of 83 runs. Moeen Ali was the rockstar with the bat as he smashed the balls to the nooks and corners of the ground scoring a very quick 50. The CSK were nearing 90 runs in their 9th over itself and that was when the poor show began. Conway, Rayudu and Jagadeesan were dismissed back to back and Moeen's incredible show was put to a halt as there was no one to give him adequate support at the other end.
Dhoni managed to give some partnership by scoring 26 runs but that was not enough. Moeen Ali was dismissed for 93 and the CSK, who at once was comfortably aiming at 200, were reduced to just 150 runs on the board, credit to the RR spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal, who reduced the CSK from scoring big along with medium-pacer Obed McCoy. Royals opened up their chase with an easy-to-pursue target on board. However, the opening stand of the chasers had become a setback.
The Rajasthan Royals lost Jos Buttler very early. Jaiswal and Sanju Samson's partnership provided some quick runs for the team. Samson and Padikkal got dismissed one after the other, posing a threat to the chase while Jaiswal was unstoppable as he scored his half-century. Ravichandran Ashwin was promoted up the order once again and he justified the decision of his team management with the bat.
Once Jaiswal and Hetmyer were dismissed, Ashwin took the responsibility, played beautifully scoring 40 runs from just 23 balls and took his team into the playoffs in style, with a victory by 5 wickets. With a stupendous victory, Rajasthan Royals jumped to the second spot on the table and it will be playing the Qualifier 1 and with the victory in the next round, the Royals will get a ticket to the finals.
On the other side of the aisle, CSK has an unimpressive series and ends the current IPL edition with a hat-trick defeat. Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, CSK's skipper MS Dhoni said, "I think what we need to understand is that we were playing a batter light. So when we lost those wickets, Moeen had to curb himself a bit. Role and responsibility got swapped a bit when the wickets fell. If we had lost another wicket at the point, we wouldn't have even got anything to defend. I would say 10-15 runs short although the start is always crucial. If you don't start well, even 180 may not be enough."
"Overall, I would say 15 runs short. I think the important factor is that he (Mukesh) is keen to learn quickly and after every game, he wants to improve. That's what is needed for youngsters. Next season, it shouldn't be like they are starting from scratch. Our Malinga (Pathirana) is difficult to pick, and he'll only surely contribute to us next year. We have done well in patches. Important thing is to do well as a team. Crucial thing is to make the most of an opportunity if you are a bowler or a batter. It's not a one-year tournament, you keep coming back year after year. The key is to keep going as a player for the next 10-12 years", Dhoni added.
For his splendid performance in bat and ball, Chennai's son of soil Ravichandra Ashwin was conferred with the Man of the Match award as he took his team Royals to the victory. Ashwin said, "Feels like a million dollars. It was important that we won the game tonight. That's quite a good finish to the group stage games. The communication was pretty clear before the tournament. I had to work on a lot of stuff. The team management was clear with my position. I know what my role is. I have to make the batsmen take risks. I have always believed I understand the game well. I am quite innovative, they have understood me well. I want to play my A game. I am glad to make it to the playoffs and super pleased."