MUMBAI, May 20: Ravichandran Ashwin, once again, proved his utility with the bat when his team needed it the most as Rajasthan Royals defeated Chennai Super Kings by five wickets to finish the IPL league phase in Top-2 here on Friday.
Ashwin remained unbeaten on 40 off 23 balls as RR completed the chase of 151 with two balls to go, grabbing the second place to set up a blockbuster clash with Gujarat Titans in the first play-off next Tuesday.
Moeen Ali top-scored for CSK with a 57-ball 93 before RR staged a remarkable comeback to restrict the yellow brigade to 150 for six in the allotted 20 overs.
Young Yashasvi Jaiswal (59 off 44 balls) got RR off to a brisk start with back-to-back boundaries off Mukesh Choudhary in the innings’ first over.
In fact, by the time the first over of their innings came to an end, RR qualified for the play-offs on net run rate, leaving Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals to fight for the fourth spot.
Simarjeet Singh struck early for CSK, sending back the dangerous Jos Buttler (2), who edged an away going delivery to Moeen’s waiting hands at slip.
Jaiswal struck two more successive boundaries in the next over and to give RR innings stability, the 20-year-old opener added 51 runs for the second wicket with captain Sanju Samson (15).
However, Samson again failed to translate his start into a substantial contribution as left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner had the batter caught and bowled. Devdutt Padikkal (3) did not last long and was bowled by Moeen to leave RR at 76 for three in the 12th over, and with some work left to do.
Having brought up his half century in 39 balls, and after a six over long-on, the well-set Jaiswal got out to Prashant Solanki while trying to clear the fence.
Back from Guyana after celebrating the birth of his child, Shimron Hetmyer (6) arrived at the crease with high hopes of finishing it for RR, but could not do much as he fell to Solanki.
However, Ravichandran Ashwin kept RR in the hunt with his sensible batting at one end.
Earlier, Moeen blazed away in the power play but slowed down considerably thereafter as Chennai Super Kings struggled for runs in the back 10.
Batting first after his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss, Moeen smashed his way to a 19-ball 50, and was 59 off 24 at the end of the first six power play overs, with CSK racing away to 75 for the loss of one wicket.
In all, Moeen made 93 off 57 balls with 13 fours and three sixes.
However, after being at the receiving end of Moeen’s brutal onslaught during which the England all-rounder made a bowler of Trent Boult’s calibre look like an uncapped player by bludgeoning him for 26 runs in an over, the RR bowling unit made a fine recovery. (PTI)
Mumbai Indians V/s Delhi Capitals- 7.30 pm
Chennai Super Kings
Ruturaj Gaikwad c Samson b Boult 2
Devon Conway lbw b Ashwin 16
Moeen Ali c Parag b McCoy 93
Narayan Jagadeesan c Parag b McCoy 1
Ambati Rayudu c Padikkal b Chahal 3
MS Dhoni c Buttler b Chahal 26
Mitchell Santner not out 1
Simarjeet Singh not out 3
Extras: (W-5) 5
Total: (For 6 wickets in 20 overs) 150
Fall of wickets: 1/2 2/85 3/88 4/95 5/146 6/146
Bowling: Trent Boult 4-0-44-1, Prasidh Krishna 4-0-32-0, Ravichandran Ashwin 4-0-28-1, Yuzvendra Chahal 4-0-26-2, Obed McCoy 4-0-20-2.
Yashasvi Jaiswal c Matheesha b Prashant Solanki 59
Jos Buttlerc Moeen b Simarjeet Singh 2
Sanju Samson c and b Santner 15
Devdutt Padikkal b Moeen 3
Ravichandran Ashwin not out 40
Shimron Hetmyer c Conway b Prashant Solanki 6
Riyan Parag not out 10
Extras: (lb 8, w 8,) 16
Total: (5 wkts, 19.4 Ov) 151
Fall of Wickets: 16-1, 67-2, 76-3, 104-4, 112-5
Bowling: Mukesh Choudhary 4-0-41-0, Simarjeet Singh 3-0-18-1, Mitchell Santner 3-0-15-1, Matheesha Pathirana 3.4-0-28-0, Moeen Ali 4-0-21-1, Prashant Solanki 2-0-20-2.