SHARJAH: Short boundaries and a flat pitch at Sharjah Cricket Stadium meant a run-feast was on the cards for Tuesday’s clash between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals. Electing to bowl first in their second game, Chennai were punished by Steve Smith & Co, leaving them with an improbable 217 runs to chase.
Even though MS Dhoni’s men are known for chasing down massive totals, it didn’t quite happen on Tuesday.
The three-time champions lost by 16 runs to endure their first defeat of the 13th edition.
On a flat deck, both sides hit 33 sixes which is five more than what was witnessed before Tuesday.
Even if one considers the dew factor, chasing down Rajasthan’s 216/7 was too big an ask for Chennai after they lost first four wickets for 77 inside nine overs.
Faf du Plessis top-scored with 72 runs (off 37 balls) but it wasn’t enough to take the team home. Dhoni’s unbeaten 29 off 17 balls was too little too late.
For Rajasthan, leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia starred with three wickets.
Though Smith & Co came into the contest as underdogs, they made their intentions clear from the beginning.
Sans their first-choice opener Jos Buttler and all-rounder Ben Stokes, Smith took the responsibility to open the innings, for the first time in T20s.
Sanju Samson and the skipper made sure they utilised the conditions to the hilt, by putting on 121 runs for the second wicket. While Samson scored a 32-ball 74, Smith hit 69 off 47.
Jofra Archer’s cameo of 27 in eight balls at the end ensured Rajasthan crossed the 200-mark. By beating heavyweights Chennai, Rajasthan have made a statement early in the league.
Brief scores: RR 216/7 in 20 ovs (Samson 74, Smith 69; Sam 3/33) bt CSK 200/6 in 20 ovs (Du Plessis 72; Tewatia 3/37).