Rajasthan beat Chennai by seven wickets in what was the highest-scoring game of the tournament’s second leg. After winning the toss and electing to field first, Rajasthan restricted Chennai to 189-4 in 20 overs despite a fine century by opener Ruturaj Gaikwad. And while most thought that Rajasthan would not be able to defend their total, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shivam Dube were keen to prove them wrong. The Mumbai Cricket Association teammates notched up a half-century each to help Rajasthan wrap up the match with 15 balls remaining. Let’s look at the major talking points from the game.
Ruturaj Gaikwad slams maiden ton
Chennai opener Ruturaj Gaikwad slammed his first Indian T20 League century, staying unbeaten till the end of Chennai’s innings. Gaikwad scored a 101 off just 60 balls during which he hit 9 fours and 5 sixes, sparing no bowler. The century came off the last ball of the innings, which Gaikwad smashed for a six.
The batsman from Maharashtra started the Indian T20 League on a poor note, scoring 5, 5 and 10 in his first three innings. But Chennai, known for backing players, gave a longer rope to the right-hander, who repaid the franchise’s faith. After his first three forgettable outings, the 24-year-old has scores of 64, 33, 75, 4, 88*, 38, 40, 45 and 101*. And with that fine century, Gaikwad has also become the highest run-scorer in the tournament and a frontrunner to win the orange cap.
Here are some interesting stats from Gaikwad’s century – It is the 66th century in Indian T20 League history and the 24th by an Indian batsman. Gaikwad has now also become the seventh player from Team Chennai to hit a century and at 24 years of age, the youngest from the team to achieve the feat. Gaikwad, the highest run-getter for Maharashtra in the league stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2018-19, was bought by the three-time champions at the 2019 player auctions.
Important cameos by Chennai’s all-rounders
After Faf du Plessis (25), Suresh Raina (3) and Ambati Rayudu (2) fell cheaply, Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja chipped in with crucial runs. While Moeen scored a 17-ball 12, Jadeja managed 32 off 15 at a strike rate of 213.33, taking Chennai to 189-4 in 20 overs. With the kind of start given by Gaikwad, Chennai would have hoped to get a total in excess of 200.
Suresh Raina’s string of poor scores
For the fourth highest run-scorer in the tournament’s history, and Chennai’s leading run-scorer, this has been a season to forget, at least so far. Raina has just 160 runs in 12 innings at an average and strike rate of 17.77 and 125. The Chennai veteran has been particularly disappointing since the resumption of the tournament in UAE, having scores of 4, 17*, 11, 2 and 3 and not crossing the 25-run mark in his last 9 outings.
With the side eyeing a top two finish, they will be expecting the experienced campaigner to find his form sooner. Dropping him is going to be unlikely. Chennai head coach Stephen Fleming recently made it clear that the franchise will back Raina for all that he has achieved in the last 13 seasons, and showed faith in him.
Rajasthan lit up the powerplay overs
Openers Evin Lewis and Yashasvi Jaiswal shared a 77-run partnership between them, before the West Indian was sent back in the second ball of the fifth over and Sanju Samson walked in. Lewis scored a 12-ball 27, hitting two fours and as many sixes. Jaiswal, on the other hand, scored a 50 off 21 balls, finding 6 fours and 3 sixes and going after every bowler. This is the first half-century for the young batsman in the Indian T20 League.
Rajasthan scored 81 runs in the Powerplay overs, which is their highest in the first six overs, and also the highest Powerplay score for any team this season.
Shivam Dube goes all guns blazing
After Rajasthan lost their openers, Shivam Dube, playing his first match of the UAE leg, was promoted to no. 4 in the batting order and the big-hitting batsman made the most of it on a batting friendly surface. Dube scored an unbeaten 64 off 42 off, hitting 4 fours and as many sixes. The 28-year-old all-rounder from Mumbai, who made his Indian T20 League debut in 2019, now has 209 runs from seven matches this season at an average of 34.83 and strike rate of 126.66.
Glenn Phillips contributes on debut
After Samson walked back, debutant Glenn Phillips joined Dube and chipped in with an 8-ball 14 to take Rajasthan over the line in 17.3 overs. He also bowled one over, conceding only three runs. The 24-year-old, who has played one Test and 25 T20Is for New Zealand, was signed by Rajasthan as a replacement for Jos Buttler, who pulled out of the tournament. The right-hander, who has also played in the Caribbean Premier League and The Hundred, has 4012 runs in 139 T20 innings at an average of 33.15 and a strike rate of 142.31.
Rahul Tewatia stars with the ball
In a game fairly dominated by the batsmen, Rahul Tewatia picked up three wickets in four overs, although at an economy rate of 9.75 runs per over. The leg-break bowler sent back three very important batsmen – Du Plessis, Raina and Moeen, and while fans would have liked to see him hit some sixes in the run-chase -as he did in 2020, Tewatia didn’t get a chance to bat.
What next for both the teams?
For Chennai, they will look to win their next game to ensure a top-two finish and thereby easier access to the final. They play their next game against Delhi on October 4, another team eyeing a top-two finish.
Rajasthan, meanwhile, have made the race to the playoffs even more interesting. They now have 10 points – the same as Kolkata, Punjab and Mumbai. We have nine more league games, and four teams fighting to make it to the top four. For each of these four teams, their next couple of games thus are a must-win along with other permutations.