Just as the players headed back after the first innings, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) coach Stephen Fleming walked out to the centre. He observed the pitch for a while and went back. After all, a target of 147 could have proved to be tricky on a wicket with turn and occasional low bounce.
Chennai Super Kings' MS Dhoni and D Bravo celebrating after win the match against Rajasthan Royals during the IPL-5 match at MAC stadium in Chennai. (PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar)
But whatever Fleming noticed and subsequently shared with the team helped them prevail in an intense finish, as the CSK won by seven wickets at the Chidambaram Stadium.
At no point was there panic, but the Super Kings failed to wrest control from the Rajasthan Royals and finish the game in a relaxed manner. Stuart Binny, who had gone for 12 in his first over, bowled the last over cleverly to keep the result in the balance till the final ball. With two required off the last ball, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (15) flicked the bowler to deep square-leg and completed one run. The batsmen were struggling to scamper for the second but a wide throw from Kevon Cooper ensured it wasn't a problem after all.
Though the Royals did start with the left-arm spin of Ashok Menaria, it failed to provide the 'surprise' element, as hinted by pacer Siddharth Trivedi on the eve of the match. S Badrinath and Faf du Plessis were in top gear from the outset.
Apart from Cooper and Brad Hogg, the rest of the bowlers found it hard to contain the batsmen. Du Plessis continued his sublime form as he struck another 50 to guide his team to victory.
Earlier, even though the Royals did not lose wickets in a heap, they found it difficult to step on the gas. After Rahul Dravid (26) and Ajinkya Rahane (15) were dismissed, Owais Shah and Menaria (36) provided some impetus to the innings.
Shah made room to smash Shadab Jakati and Ravindra Jadeja but the bowlers won the battle by bowling a bit wide. Shah could not attempt a shot to those deliveries, but as they say, winners never stop trying. That is what Shah has been doing in the current season. He tried again during his innings of 52 and dispatched a Doug Bollinger to the deep mid-wicket stand for a six. But the Chennai bowlers stuck to a tight line and length and that did not let the Royals finish on a high. In fact, the final over by Nuwan Kulasekara was the captain's delight --- he gave away only four runs and grabbed the wicket of Shah.