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IPL 2015 CSK vs RR: Jadeja, McCullum Lift Super Kings To No.1

By on May 11, 2015

Chennai Super Kings 157 for 5 (McCullum 81, Morris 3-19) beat Rajasthan Royals 145 for 9 (Jadeja 4-11, Mohit 3-25) by 12 runs…

Chennai Super Kings almost confirmed themselves in the playoffs with a comfortable 12-run win against Rajasthan Royals that took them to the top of the table with 16 points. They still have two games at hand. Royals, on the other hand, were now placed precariously, needing a win from their last league game against Kolkata Knight Riders to qualify.

The positions the teams were in the table had an air of “I told you so”, so had the pattern the game followed after Super Kings decided to bat on a sluggish pitch. The batsmen generally struggled for timing but Brendon McCullum, the only batsman to make a half-century in the match, braved the sapping heat to set up Super Kings for another sub-160 total. Then Ravindra Jadeja picked a bagful of wickets after a 15-day barren spell to derail Royals’ chase.

 IPL 2015 CSK vs RR: Ravindra Jadeja

Credits: ESPN CricInfo

It hasn’t been a high-scoring season in Chennai this year. The home team batted first in each game, but only twice were able to go past 160. Still, such has been there control on this ground that except tat Mumbai Indians, no one else was able to breach the target.

McCullum, playing his last game before joining the New Zealand team in England, had his last hurrah. After the early losses of Dwayne Smith and Suresh Raina, McCullum played an innings slightly out of character: it did not feature all-out aggression. He would hit a six, a boundary, then go back to nurdle the ball in the gaps. And such was the necessity, too, as the ball did not come into the bat. That he found success was not surprising, his fast hands allowing him to generate pace on the ball.

McCullum reached his half-century, his third 50-plus score this season, in 44 balls despite five fours and two sixes. The run-rate at that stage – the 13th over – hovered just above six an over. Despite fatigue setting in, he ensured Super Kings accelerated by picking up 31 more runs in the next 17 balls. By the time he was dismissed, in the 18th over, the score had swelled to 132. MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo then pushed it to 157 with late hitting.

Royals knew they needed runs early on before the onset of spin. Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson started well, but once Mohit Sharma had Rahane top-edge a pull, Royals’ innings lost steam. Jadeja, then, ran through the middle order in a spell that read 4-0-11-4, the highlight being the gravity-defying catch by Bravo at the long-on boundary.

Royals were left needing 65 to win from the last five overs. There were a few flashes of aggression from Sanju Samson, but the team slowly caved in to fall well short. The loss was Royals’ first under Steven Smith’s captaincy this year.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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