On the first ball of the sixth over of the Rajasthan Royals (RR) innings, chasing 126 to win against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Steve Smith was struck plumb in front of the stumps. Everyone but the umpire thought Smith was a goner, including the RR skipper himself. On taking the review, however, a tiny but definite inside edge saved Smith, vindicating the umpire.
With three wickets down, RR were looking in danger of throwing away one of the smallest chases of this tournament and allowing CSK to set a record for the lowest total defended in IPL history at Abu Dhabi.
A fourth, especially that of the skipper, may have triggered a collapse which the team would not have recovered from. Smith's luck with the inside edge, however, allowed him to carry on - he would remain unbeaten till the match ended in the 18th over.
After CSK opted to bat, openers Curran and Du Plessis endured rare failures in a must-win match, with the South African departing early and the former scoring at under a run-a-ball for his 22. None of MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ambati Rayudu or Kedar Jadhav could fix CSK's strike rate woes - only an aggressive Shane Watson looked like changing that, but he was dismissed for just 8 off 3.
In reply, Ben Stokes attacked up front for RR, but after he played on to his stumps, a frazzled Uthappa and a nervy Samson too lost their wickets to the accurate CSK opening bowlers. After weathering a lengthy spell by Chahar and Hazlewood, however, the RR duo of Smith and Buttler had no further issues in sealing the chase.
In a crucial match for both sides, several players disappointed for their team. Here are the three biggest flops from the CSK vs RR IPL game.
#3 Sanju Samson (RR)
RR batsman Sanju Samson has witnessed a sharp decline in form from his first two games in the tournament. From seeming like finally being the season where he arrives at the big stage, 2020 for him has settled into being a mediocre campaign.
With RR in trouble having lost their openers, it was up to Samson to play out the CSK opening quicks, Chahar in particular, and then make merry against the other bowlers. Instead, Samson perished off a nervy tickle down leg off Chahar to trudge back for a duck. Samson's form has become a huge concern for RR after his lack of performances in the middle order for most of the season.
#2 Piyush Chawla (CSK)
In the post-match presentation, MS Dhoni was asked a rather direct question about whether CSK's old brigade was keeping out promising youngsters who may perform better. Some of that may have been pointed at leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, the most expensive bowler on both sides put together.
Expected to dent RR the way RR's economical leg-spinners did in the CSK middle overs, Chawla was taken apart by Buttler for 32 runs in his three. With an economy rate above 9 and just 6 wickets from his 7 games, Chawla has been one of CSK's worst disappointments in the bowling department.
#1 Kedar Jadhav (CSK)
It is blatantly obvious that CSK do not expect much from Kedar Jadhav's bat. With the team in the doldrums at 53/3, MS Dhoni backed himself. As they slipped to 56/4, out came Ravindra Jadeja. Even in situations tailor-made for Jadhav's consolidation, the team chose not to play him.
When he eventually walked out in the 18th over, the team was in desperate need for a finishing fillip. He gave them 4 runs off 7 balls, failing yet again this season. Jadhav's inexplicable recall to the team in place of the promising Jagadeesan never fails to raise eyebrows, and after costing the team one too many matches, one would think CSK's patience has run out.