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JAIPUR: A brutal assault by Shane Watson and Stuart Binny at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday enabled Rajasthan Royals to steal a win from Chennai Super Kings and confirm a place in the top four. The pair added a scarcely-believable 93 in 7.3 overs to snatch victory from a precarious position, as Watson finished with a 34-ball 70, and Binny remained unconquered on a 23-ball 41, in pursuit of Chennai’s rather reasonable 141.
The home team looked set to deflate to their first home defeat this season at 45/4 in the tenth over – with Ajinkya Rahana, James Faulkner, Sanju Samson and Rahul Dravid back in the pavilion. The required run-rate at that point had escalated to in excess of nine per over and R. Ashwin, one of the most dangerous bowlers to get away in the format, had all four overs remaining.
Chennai’s gradual tightening of the screws in the field appeared likely to culminate in a fatal turn with the introduction of the talented off-spinner in the eleventh. The game did take a turn when Ashwin came in. But nobody could’ve imagined the way the pendulum swung.
Watson and Binny smote flat, in-your-face sixes off the tall bowler to check the asking rate, and then made that mathematical figure a non-entity with a barrage of big strikes against Holder and Bravo.
After Ashwin went for 23 in the 11th, Bravo leaked 22 in 14th, inclusive of three more maximums; Chris Morris’ 15th was the icing on Rajasthan’s cake – four successive boundaries that took Watson to a blinding half-century in 25 balls and the home team to within 12 runs – to be attained in five overs – of a win.
The rest was a formality. Although Watson was bowled by Bravo, he had done enough for Royals to coast home with 17 balls to spare, a place in the last-four confirmed, their spotless home record intact for the season.
An unchanged Chennai was favoured by yet another big stand by openers Vijay and Hussey. The pair added 83 after Rahul Dravid asked the visitors to bat, but at no point did things appear to get out of hand for the bowling side.
Chennai were 36 without loss at the end of the Powerplay, as Hussey kept up his good run with a slew off boundaries off Rajasthan’s seamers. The Aussie was the first wicket to fall when he was bowled by Stuart Binny going for the big hit.
Bravo hits out
Kevon Cooper then got rid of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni in the next over. Vijay carried on, but no sooner had he reached his second half-century of the season with four off Cooper, the batsman was run-out trying to steal a bye.
It took a power-packed cameo from Bravo, who lasered Cooper through the off-side for a slew of boundaries, to take his team to repectability. The West Indian all-rounder ensured 25 crucial runs in the last two overs, runs that did not prove enough when Watson and Binny decided to go after the bowling.