Rajasthan Royals trumped three-time champions Chennai Super Kings by 16 runs to open their Indian Premier League campaign with a victory at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
A brutal knock from Sanju Samson and crazy finish from Jofra Archer helped 2008 champions Rajasthan reach a tournament-high 216-7 after they were put in to bat first. Chennai did have a bright start but they lost pace in the middle stages before reaching 200-6.
Rajasthan missed the services of England duo Jos Buttler (on quarantine) and Ben Stokes, who is in the treatment of his father, but they still built on to a total that proved too much. After losing Yashasvi Jaiswal (11) in the third over, Samson made merry at the pitch and together with captain Steven Smith added 121 runs for the second wicket.
Man-of-the-match Samson struck nine sixes and one boundary in a 32-ball 74. Smith hit four boundaries and as many sixes in his 47-ball 60 but it’s the last over from Lungi Ngidi that hurt Chennai the most.
Archer punished Ngidi with some powerful hitting smashing the South African pacer for four consecutive sixes – two of them in no-balls. Ngidi was lucky to escape the final over giving away just 30 runs having conceded 27 runs in the first two deliveries.
Another bowler bearing the brunt of Rajasthan’s onslaught was Piyush Chawla who was struck for six sixes in his four over spell that cost Chennai 55 runs. Sam Curran once again impressed taking 3-33 from four overs.
Chennai needed ferocious hitting in the power plays but a 56-run opening wicket partnership between Shane Watson (33) and Murali Vijay (run-a-ball 21) would not be enough. Spinner Rahul Tewatia managed to halt Chennai picking up three middle order wickets.
Faf du Plessi made his second consecutive half century and ended up making 37-ball 72 but by the time he was dismissed in the 19th over, the game had already slipped out of Chennai hands.
Du Plessis hit seven sixes and a four. Captain MS Dhoni was unbeaten on 17-ball 29 with three sixes, all coming in the last over from Archer.