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During Indian Premier League 2013, Shane Watson’s brilliant batsmanship against Chennai Super Kings went in vain. Vishal R looks back at the nail-biting contest.
The home advantage in cricket is a term that is often discarded as opposed to football. The buzzwords that are thrown in for the ‘Gentleman’s game’ are centered on team composition, squad depth and in T20 Internationals (T20Is); big-hitters and world class strike-bowlers. Conditions largely play a peripheral role in the battle between bat and ball, and it is adaptability that is the key here.
Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) though, since the inception of the Indian Premier League have added a new dimension to making home advantage count. A clash between the two expectedly is one of the eagerly awaited fixtures. An enthralling battle between the two ensued at Chennai’s fortress, M.A. Chidambaram stadium on 22 April, 2013.
Chennai got off to a bad start after Mumbai Indians (MI) had breached the aforementioned fortress narrowly in their opening encounter. The old, wise heads of Chennai got together and went on a winning spree, and the men in yellow were on the ascendency going into this tie. Rajasthan on the other hand, were as always, punching above their weight and got off to a steady, if not a spectacular start.
On a gorgeous run-heavy strip, Rajasthan captain Rahul Dravid won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first. Mohit Sharma, who had already made an impact for Chennai and MS Dhoni started proceedings and the home side got off to an embarrassing start. A harmless flick by Shane Watson saw Dwayne Bravo comically let the ball go through between his legs and the ball went for a boundary.
The first two overs were cautiously negotiated by Watson but the burly Australian started singing a different tune since the third over. Watson played the ball straight back over bowler Mohit’s head and ball went over the fence. Watson‘s partner, Ajinkya Rahane started steadily and was happy to let Watson take strike. The all-rounder was growing in confidence with a flurry of boundaries and resulted in a couple of big overs. Watson was cutting and flicking with consummate ease and a big score looked on the cards.
Just then, local boy, Ravichandran Ashwin made twin strikes at a very crucial juncture of the game. Rahane’s patient stay came to an end thanks to a beautifully flighted delivery. Dishant Yagnik perished soon after a top-edge saw the ball comfortably falling in the palms of the bowler Ashwin.
Watson however was not holding back and was in a punishing mood. A few lusty hits during the final overs saw Rajasthan reach a respectable total, and Watson finished with a brutal 101. Stuart Binny’s late surge saw Rajasthan reach 185 and Chennai had their work cut out. Opener, Murali Vijay perished rather quickly to opening bowler, Ajit Chandila.
In came Suresh Raina and suddenly, Chennai didn’t look second best in the mammoth chase. It was like Mike Hussey and Raina knew exactly where to find gaps in the field and when to up the ante and go for the kill. The ease at which both batsmen toyed the Rajasthan bowling was a cause of worry for Dravid’s men.
Both batsmen reached their fifties and were moving along comfortably, but rookie Australian left-arm pacer, James Faulkner put the brakes on the scoring with Raina’s wicket. The Indian southpaw made 51. Hussey was still relentless and kept it together. Kevon Cooper had a bad start to his IPL career when he was taken apart with ease by the Australian. However, Hussey was run out soon after for a scintillating 88. Dhoni looked slightly out of sorts, and Faulkner was having an inspired game. He sent Ravindra Jadeja and Dhoni in quick succession and the pendulum shifted the Rajasthan’s way.
After a chanceless knock earlier in the day, Dravid tossed the ball to Watson for the final over. Chennai needed 11 of it. Lower order batsman, Chris Morris hit a single of the first ball and Dwayne Bravo could not connect the next delivery. In the space of three deliveries though, in his calm and collected avatar with the ol’ West Indian swagger on full display, Bravo sealed the tie. The third delivery was a good one by Watson, but Bravo swatted it over the off-side boundary and the noise levels at the stadium hit its zenith. Bravo just worked away the next two deliveries to ensure that Chennai won with a ball to spare. It was a pity that Watson couldn’t match his batting pyrotechnics.
Rajasthan Royals 185 for 4 in 20 overs (Shane Watson 101, Ajinkya Rahane 16, Stuart Binny 36*; Ravichandran Ashwin 2 for 20, Dwayne Bravo 2 for 36) lost to Chennai Super Kings 186 for 5 in 19.5 overs (Mike Hussey 88, Suresh Raina 51, MS Dhoni 21; James Faulkner 3 for 20) by 5 wickets.
(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian School of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)
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