Royals ride on merrily

Graeme Smith... an innings of extraordinary power.-PTI

Chennai Super Kings made a brave attempt to chase down 212 for victory, but was done in by Warne’s smart bowling changes in the end. Nandita Sridhar reports.

Graeme Smith played an innings of extraordinary power and precision to set up Rajasthan Royals’ 10th win in the IPL. The Chennai Super Kings, playing its final match at home, did well in its chase, but was denied a win by Rajasthan’s accurate bowling at the end.

Albie Morkel’s impressive 71 lacked substantial support from the lower-order. Parthiv Patel and Suresh Raina maintained a run-rate of over 10, but with captain Shane Warne’s smart bowling changes, Chennai managed just four runs in the last over. Munaf Patel and Sohail Tanvir were difficult for the batsmen to score off in the business end of the innings.

Parthiv Patel’s 54 came off 40 balls, while Raina’s 24-ball 45 kept the target within reach. Patel’s assault was calculated. His six off Warne mirrored the intent of the batsmen, who gave themselves a good chance of overhauling the target. Morkel’s 40-ball 71, which included six fours and four sixes, came through some clean hitting over long-off and long-on.

The innings held promise and could have taken Chennai home if it wasn’t for the bowling side’s intensity at the end — a surprise given that they had already qualified for the semi-finals — which denied the host any opportunity.

Rajasthan Royals’ fielding was remarkable as well. S. Badrinath’s pull looked set to clear the ropes, which might have given Chennai the win, but Taruwar Kohli’s remarkable effort near the square-leg fence brought about a crucial dismissal. Mohammad Kaif, as is his wont, was dynamic at long-on.

Earlier, the visiting side was given a dream start by Smith and Swapnil Asnodkar as 127 runs came in 11.1 overs. Smith’s 51-ball 91 was brutal. Boundaries were acquired with ease as the left-hander cut forcefully and took Muttiah Muralitharan on for a huge six with a slog-sweep. L. Balaji wasn’t exempted and was smashed straight for a six.

Asnodkar was contemptuous towards Manpreet Gony, pulling him with ease. His 41 came off 27 balls with five fours and two sixes. Smith managed nine fours and four sixes. Chennai, despite dismissing the two, struggled to stem the flow of runs.

Kamran Akmal showed the sort of urgency needed to maintain the tempo the openers had set. His 53 came off 28 balls and took Rajasthan to 211 for five in 20 overs.

Chennai made a brave chase of it, but one sensed that all it would take were just two accurate overs by the bowlers for Rajasthan to clinch victory. Warne made sure he had the bowlers for it.

THE SCORES

Chennai Super Kings v Rajasthan Royals, M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, May 24, 2008.

Result: Rajasthan Royals won by 10 runs.

Rajasthan Royals 211 for five in 20 overs (Graeme Smith 91, Swapnil Asnodkar 41, Kamran Akmal 53, Albie Morkel two for 35) beat Chennai Super Kings 201 for seven in 20 overs (Parthiv Patel 54, Suresh Raina 45, Albie Morkel 71, Sohail Tanvir three for 33, Shane Warne two for 35).