Jos Buttler keeps RR alive in the competition    IANS
Jos Buttler remained unbeaten on 95 IANS

Match 43 of VIVO IPL 2018 turned out to be a humdinger between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) at Sawai Mansingh stadium, Jaipur. Chasing 177, RR were kept in the chase by Jos Buttler’s fourth consecutive fifty (all as opener). He struggled towards the end, but Krishnappa Gowtham eased the pressure off him, which gave Buttler time and space to settle into his groove. In the end Buttler pulled off a close win for his side. With this victory, RR stay in contention for the Playoffs. They are currently sixth, but are tied on 10 points with Mumbai Indians (MI) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), though RR lag on net run rate. Meanwhile, CSK remain at the second place.

RR chase started off well. They promoted Ben Stokes up the order to launch an all-out attack. Opening for the first time in T20 cricket, Stokes had enough time to regain form, but the move didn’t pay off. While Buttler got going with his extravagant shots, mixing reverse-sweeps with textbook strokes, Stokes struggled a bit. He went overboard in an attempt to attack Harbhajan Singh and was cleaned up.

At No. 3, skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s poor run continued. He got off the mark with an effortless pull off Ravindra Jadeja but edged one to first slip soon afterwards. Despite going at over 10 an over, RR had to regroup due to regular breakthroughs.

Buttler and Samson added a valuable 46 for the third wicket. They got the occasional boundary, but CSK ensured they didn’t run away with the game. Jadeja kept things tight from his end with the ball gripping occasionally. MS Dhoni was smart to bowl out Shardul Thakur before the death overs.

Buttler lost steam after Samson departed for 21 (the strike rate of 213 after 15 balls came down to 157). Then Stuart Binny played a vital cameo, his 21 coming off 17 balls, but it was back to Buttler once he perished. Then Gowtham took charge.

With 27 needed off 11 balls, Gowtham and David Willey had a dramatic 4-ball duel. Gowtham hit a straight six, Willey bowled a wide, then Gowtham ran a single, and Buttler gave the strike back. Then Gowtham hit another straight six and was caught-behind off the last ball.

Dwayne Bravo had to defend 12 off the last over. He started with a dot and conceded 2 twos, but a fourth-ball six by Buttler settled things.

Brief scores:

Chennai Super Kings 176 for 4 in 20 overs (Shane Watson 39, Suresh Raina 52, MS Dhoni 33*, Sam Billing 27; Jofra Archer 2 for 42, Ish Sodhi 1 for 29) lost to Rajasthan Royals 177 for 6 in 19.5 overs (Jos Buttler 95*, Sanju Samson 21, Stuart Binny 22; Shardul Thakur 1 for 22, Ravindra Jadeja 1 for 28) by 4 wickets with 1 ball to spare.

Player of the Match: Jos Buttler.