Rajasthan Royals survived a late blitz from M.S. Dhoni, in his landmark 200th match as captain of Chennai Super Kings, and Ravindra Jadeja to prevail in a last-ball IPL finish on Wednesday.
Chasing 176 for victory, Chennai were 113-6 when Dhoni (32) joined Jadeja (25) and the pair put on an unbeaten stand of 59 but fell short of Rajasthan’s 175-8 by three runs.
Dhoni, 41, rolled back the years as he smashed Sandeep Sharma for two sixes in the final over with Chennai needing 21 to win from the last six balls.
But the medium-pace bowler, who started with two wides, kept his nerve to bowl two yorkers to deny Dhoni and Chennai a miracle as the hosts ended on 172-6.
England white-ball skipper Jos Buttler stood out with his 52, guiding last year’s runners-up Rajasthan to a total which was just enough for the team’s third win in four matches and sent them top of the 10-team table.
Buttler was helped along by Devdutt Padikkal (38) and Ravichandran Ashwin, who started slowly but smashed two sixes in his 30-run cameo.
Rajasthan’s spinners and Sandeep then combined to restrict Chennai, with Ashwin taking an impressive 2-25 including the key wicket of Ajinkya Rahane for 31.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal struck twice in one over, removing Chennai impact player Ambati Rayudu (one) and then New Zealand’s Devon Conway soon after the opener reached 50.
Rajasthan’s impact sub Adam Zampa, who came in for Buttler, was expensive with his leg spin but got the wicket of Moeen Ali.
Dhoni, the once premier finisher in the game, raised the noise at the MA Chidambaram Stadium with a four and six off Zampa and more big hits, but the asking rate remained too high.
Earlier Chennai’s bowlers, led by left-arm spinner Jadeja, who returned figures of 2-21, kept chipping away with wickets, but Buttler stood firm.
Rajasthan benefitted from some sloppy fielding as Chennai’s Moeen dropped two catches at slip and missed a run out.
Moeen though made some amends when he bowled Buttler with his off spin after the in-form batsman reached his fifty in 33 balls.
West Indies big-hitter Shimron Hetmyer finished unbeaten with 30 off 18 balls.