Any match between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals is always highly anticipated because of the quality in both the teams as well as the history between them. The standard of the games involving both these sides has always been of the highest order and the match that took place on May 13, 2014 at the JSCA International Stadium Complex of Ranchi was no different either, with things being settled by a last-ball six by Dhoni. When everybody would have predicted an easy win for the strong Chennai Super Kings batting machine, the Rajasthan Royals fought back and made a match of it!
Team composition: Chennai went in with the same team that defeated Mumbai Indians on May 10 at the Wankhede Stadium. Rajasthan made a couple of changes to the team that won against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their backyard – they left out Rahul Tewatia and Kane Richardson and introduced Kevon Cooper and Ankit Sharma, an all-rounder.
Batting: Royals won the toss and opted to bat first. They also changed their batting order a little bit, with Shane Watson, the highest scorer for them with 51 from 36 balls, moving up the order to open with Sharma, who himself made an important contribution of 30 from 27 balls. Stuart Binny also got 22 from 17 balls but none of the other batsmen could make any significant score that could take the total beyond a competitive 148 for 8 in 20 overs.
Chasing a rather modest score, Super Kings got off to a good start thanks to Dwayne Smith, who scored the maximum runs for his team, yet again, with 44 from 35 balls. Faf du Plessis (38 from 39 balls) and Dhoni (26 not out from 16 balls) ensured that they got to the total in spite of some hiccups along the way.
Bowling: Mohit Sharma was once again the wrecker-in-chief for CSK, with 3 for 31 in his 4 overs and he was assisted well by Ravindra Jadeja (2 for 18) and Samuel Badree (1 for 19). Ravichandran Ashwin picked up a wicket (1 for 39) but was fairly expensive, while Ishwar Pandey was economical (none for 18 in 3 overs) but failed to pick up a wicket.
For RR, Ankit Sharma bowled the best, with 2 for 20 in 4 overs. Cooper justified his selection with a characteristically composed spell of 1 for 25 from 4 overs and Rajat Bhatia also bowled well for his 1 for 30. Pravin Tambe was ineffective (none for 34) as was James Faulkner, who picked up a wicket but went for too many runs (1 for 37 in 3.4 overs).
Where do the teams go from here?
Chennai Super Kings may be going through a fair share of problems off the pitch but so far it has not let those affect its on-field performance, which has been clinical as usual. They now seem assured of a playoff spot, more or less, and as is the norm under Dhoni, would keep playing the best team to make sure there are no undue hiccups.
Rajasthan Royals have been playing well, too. However, it must be said that they chose the wrong team to carry out their changes against. The choices of Cooper and Sharma proved to be useful ones but the batting order shouldn’t have been re-jigged. A successful team is built on the back of consistency of thought and its execution – frequent changes only serve to throw it off its momentum. Perhaps the management would do well to keep these simple but time-tested truths in mind the next time it decides to experiment with a settled lineup.