A brilliant all-round effort by Ravichandran Ashwin (30 runs & 2-25) and a fine half-century by Jos Buttler (52) helped Rajasthan Royals prevail over Chennai Super Kings by three runs in a thrilling Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 encounter here in which M.S Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja waged a valiant battle that went in vain.
Buttler had helped Rajasthan Royals recover from the shock of losing Yashasvi Jaiswal (10) and with help from Devdutt Padikkal (38), Ashwin (30) and Shimron Hetmyer (30 not out) helped them reach a competitive 175/8 in their 20 overs after they were asked to bat first by CSK.
Chasing a target of 176 on a slow turner and with dew coming down in copious amounts was expected to be easy for Chennai Super Kings in what was the 200th match for Dhoni as captain.
But after recovering from the setback of losing Rituraj Gaikwad, their top scorer so far, for eight runs, but recovering to 78/1 thanks to Devon Conway and Ajinkya Rahane, CSK reached a stage with 40 needed off the last 12 deliveries, Dhoni (32 not out off 17 deliveries) and Ravindra Jadeja (25 off 15) pulled them to 21 off six and then seven off three deliveries. It all boiled down to five runs off the final delivery faced by Dhoni when Sandeep Sharma, who had started the final over with two wides, bowled a good yorker to deny the CSK the glory on his milestone day.
CSK, chasing Rajasthan Royals' 175/8 in 20 overs, could manage 172/6 and lost by a narrow margin.
Rajasthan Royals thus scored their third win in four matches and jumped to the top spot on better net run rate after a tie with Lucknow Super Giants with six points each.
Brilliant bowling by Rajasthan Royals spinner Ashwin (2-25) and Chahal (2-27) off their respective four overs had hampered Chennai Super Kings' chase as they had recovered from losing an early wicket to reach 78/1 in the 10th over.
Opener Devon Conway, who had struck Adam Zampa to two boundaries in the fifth over, and seasoned Ajinkya Rahane (31) had repaired the innings but things went downhill for CSK on their home ground after Ashwin trapped Rahane in front to give Rajasthan Royals the much-needed breakthrough.
Ashwin also got Shivam Dube (8 off 9) while Adam Zampa accounted for the dangerous Moeen Ali (7 off 10) and Chahal sent back Ambati Rayudu (1) as Chennai Super Kings slumped to 103/5. Chahal then claimed the prized wicket of Devon Conway (50), and Chennai Super Kings looked down and out.
However, skipper MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja struck some big blows as they pulled CSK to 40 runs needed off the last two overs. Dhoni and Jadeja hammered Jason Holder for two sixes and a four as they raised 19 runs from the 19th over.
With CSK needing 21 runs off the last over, Sandeep Sharma started with a couple of wides and then Dhoni smacked sixes off the next two deliveries off two low full-tosses and Chennai needed seven from three deliveries. Jadeja and Dhoni could score only singles off the last three deliveries as they lost by three runs.
Earlier, both Buttler and Padikkal went after the bowling with Padikkal smashing Maheesh Theekshana for two successive fours in the third over. They then hammered the Sri Lankan for 17 runs in the fifth over with Buttler smacking him for a six and four while Padikkal hit a beautiful driver boundary. Padikkal also struck Tushar Deshpande for back-to-back fours in the sixth over while Buttler bashed his England teammate Moeen Ali for successive sixes in the eighth over.
But Chennai Super Kings applied the breaks with Ravindra Jadeja claiming two quick wickets, sending back Padikkal for 38 and Sanju Samson for zero.
The going for very slow for the Royals as Buttler, who was galloping earlier became cautious, while R Ashwin, dropped by Moeen Ali off the first ball he faced, initially struggle to get the ball away as Rajasthan Royals managed to reach 95/3 at the halfway mark and were 119/3 at the end of the 14th over in which Ashwin managed to hit Theekshana for his first four.
In the end, some big hits by Ashwin and Hetmyer helped them reach what initially looked like a below-par score but eventually proved enough for a three runs victory.
Rajasthan Royals 175/8 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 52, Devdutt Padikkal 38, R Ashwin 30, Shimron Hetmyer 30 not out; Ravindra Jadeja 2-21, Tushar Deshpande 2-37, Akash Singh 2-40) beat Chennai Super Kings 172/6 in 20 overs (Devon Conway 50, Ajinkya Rahane 31, M.S Dhoni 32 not out, Ravindra Jadeja 25 not out; r Ashwin 2-25, Yuzvendra Chahal 2-27) by 3 runs.