Hobbling at one stage with 3 wickets down for just 28 runs, RR looked under pressure. However, some steady batting from the experienced pair of skipper Steve Smith and talisman Jos Buttler meant it would be smooth sailing for RR as they sealed an eventually emphatic win.
Chasing a modest 126 to win, RR persisted with their makeshift opening pair of Robin Uthappa and Ben Stokes. Though Stokes looked like making a mockery of the target with a few early boundaries, an attempt at going hard against Deepak Chahar sent him back.
Uthappa's poor shot selection ended his innings at 4 off 9 with a simple lob to the keeper, while Samson's nick behind the stumps gave Chahar a second wicket and the Kerala batsman a duck.
At that point, CSK seemed to be all over the Men in Pink. Chahar and Hazlewood were kept on and allowed to finish their quotas very quickly, as they looked the most likely to get wickets. One of the turning points in the game was an LBW shout against Steve Smith that looked plumb - however, the thinnest of inside edges saved the RR captain.
From then on, RR looked unfettered, having played out the most difficult phase of the match. The ball did not grip or turn for CSK's spinners as much as it did for RR's tweakers, and with Buttler taking heavy toll, it was one-way traffic. Steve Smith merely watched a masterclass from the other end, ensuring the partnership worth 98 runs was unbroken.
CSK struggle their way to 125/5
Opting to bat first in Abu Dhabi, CSK would have wanted a sprightly start from their opening pair of Sam Curran and Faf du Plessis. The man in form, Du Plessis had a rare early dismissal to a sharp catch by Buttler inside the circle. The incoming Shane Watson looked attacking from the outset, but he hit his third ball straight to Rahul Tewatia at shortish mid-wicket.
What followed from there was a period of slow batting by Curran and Ambati Rayudu as the duo were tied down against the leg-spin duo of Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal.
Both eventually succumbed to spin - Tewatia accounting for Rayudu for a sloppy 13 off 19, while Sam Curran's usual fast-paced scoring at the top was nowhere to be seen in his 22 off 25. Notably though, Curran struck the only six in the innings.
The innings was then placed in the hands of the under-fire skipper MS Dhoni and CSK's finisher this season, Ravindra Jadeja. The duo rotated strike, but were simply unable to clear the ropes, or even strike fours at a regular enough rate - their fifty partnership took 46 balls in the making. The skipper was dismissed run out by a few millimetres, bringing in Kedar Jadhav.
CSK's most lambasted player this season entered the crease tasked with getting them to a respectable total. His 4 off 7 did nothing close to what was asked from him, and his place in the team looks out of the question if CSK want to win every game from here.
IPL 2020, CSK vs RR: Who was the Man of the Match yesterday?
After an incredible bowling performance by the RR bowlers, with Tewatia, Gopal and Archer all conceding 5 runs per over or less with a wicket apiece, you would have bet in the first half that a bowler would walk away with the Man of the Match award. However, it was Jos Buttler who was declared Man of the Match for his batting performance.
Coming in with the batting side in a precarious position, Buttler did well to weather the storm, and along with Smith, ensured the CSK quicks made no further inroads. It was from then on that the Buttler show began. He first showed his class with a brilliant reverse sweep for four off of Jadeja, before taking Piyush Chawla to pieces with three boundaries in an over.
He took the attack to Shardul Thakur as well, as none of the CSK bowlers beyond their opening duo looked like taking a wicket. He also struck two out of three sixes hit during the entire game - the second one denting Chawla's figures further as he rendered the game all but over. For his unbeaten 70 off 48 with 7 fours and 2 sixes, Jos Buttler was the Man of the Match in yesterday's IPL game.
Published 19 Oct 2020, 23:49 IST