Rajasthan Royals entered the final of the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2013 after beating the Chennai Super Kings by 14 runs in the first semi-final at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Friday.
In what seemed to be a game lost for Chennai, Ravichandran Ashwin revived their innings with a splendid 28-ball 46 to take CSK close to a victory.
In what was pitted to be a battle of the coolest captains, Rahul Dravid emerged victorious over Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a number of interesting moves while batting as well as bowling.
The Sawai Mansingh Stadium, for a change, witnessed a good crowd as the two Indian Premier League (IPL) sides were set to play in what could have possibly been Rahul Dravid’s last competitive match.
Dhoni, who was leading a T20 side for the 100th time in India, won the toss and elected to field. With due expected to play a role in the match, Dravid too admitted that they would’ve opted to field had they won the toss.
Although the pitch was devoid of grass, it was hard and quick with the ball coming on quickly to the bat. Taking that into account, Chennai brought in Chris Morris in place of his countryman Albie Morkel.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, replaced Ashok Menaria with Dishant Yagnik.
In a bid to chase 160, Chennai got off to a hesitant start. The running between the wickets was especially por. While Murali Vijay ran out Michael Hussey by remaining stranded at the crease when there was a run, he took his chances with Raina at the other end when there was none. However, the second time around, he was lucky.
Nonetheless, luck was to run out soon as a direct hit by Sanju Samson from extra cover found Vijay short of the crease bringing an end to his struggling stay at the wicket. By the end of the powerplay overs, Chennai were 41 for two.
Dravid, too used bizarre tactics to outfox MS Dhoni and his men as he introduced six bowlers in the first seven overs.
From thereon, Rajasthan bowlers dominated the proceedings as Chennai batsmen looked scratchy were reeling at 61 for five. Raina hung around for a while looking good even as wickets continued to tumble at the other end. He scored four boundaries in his knock of 29 runs before getting dismissed by Pravin Tambe. Tambe finished with figures of three for 10 from his four overs.
Ravichandran Ashwin, in company of Morris helped Chennai go past the 100-run mark.
Earlier, a brilliant 56-ball 70 by Ajinkya Rahane had taken the home side to 159 for eight in their 20 overs. He laced his innings with six boundaries and two sixes.
Dravid’s innings didn’t last long as his defence was beaten by a Chris Morris yorker after he had shown vintage class with a square drive that resulted in a boundary.
Rajasthan’s win also provides cricket fans another chance to watch Dravid in action. If Mumbai Indians win the second semi-final, it could well be an opportunity to have Sachin Tendulkar and Dravid for the final time on the field together.
Rajasthan Royals 159 for 8 in 20 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 70, Shane Watson 32; Dwayne Bravo 3 for 26) beat Chennai Super Kings 145 for 8 in 20 overs (Suresh Raina 29, Ravichandran Ashwin 46; Pravin Tambe 3 for 10) by 14 runs.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)