CSK vs. RR: Watson goes on rampage

Seasoned all-rounder Shane Watson smashed his third IPL century as Chennai Super Kings moved to their new ‘home’ in style by producing a comprehensive 64-run win over Rajasthan Royals, here on Friday.

CSK, forced out of Chennai due to the Cauvery dispute, were shepherded by the 36-year-old Australian, who hammered 106 from 57 balls to lead his side to 204 for five after being invited to bat.

Making full use of a dropped chance in the very first over on a flat track, Watson swung his arms when the ball was pitched outside off and positioned himself nicely against short and straight deliveries to find boundary after boundary.

Watson hit nine fours and six sixes as another senior player enthralled the fans after Chris Gayle and CSK captain MS Dhoni showed their vintage touch in previous matches.

Three early wickets pegged Royals back and they were all out for 140 in 18.3 overs.

Royals’ chase was spoilt when they lost three key batsmen inside Powerplay overs. They needed Sanju Samson (2), captain Ajinkya Rahane (16) and debutant Heinrich Klaasen (7) to fire at the top but all three could not make much contribution.

Ben Stokes (45) and Jos Buttler (22) added 45 runs for the fourth wicket but the partnership broke when the latter was dismissed by Dwayne Bravo. Left-handed Stokes, who can turn the match on its head, was also dismissed soon and writing was clear on the wall.

Watson shared a 50-run stand with fellow opener Ambati Rayudu (12) and then raised an 81-run partnership for the second wicket with comeback-man Suresh Raina, who hit a fiery 46 off 29 balls with nine shots to the fence.

Watson was in regal touch as the Australian pummelled Royals bowlers after being dropped in the opening over, bowled by Stuart Binny. With no assistance on offer, the bowlers needed to be disciplined with their line and length but they were guilty of bowling either too full or short.

If CSK could not take the total out of Royals’ reach, it was because of leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal, who stopped the run flow if not choked the CSK line-up, by accounting for three batsmen, including MS Dhoni in quick succession. Shreyas conceded just 20 runs in his four-over quota and CSK managed only 54 runs in their last seven overs. Royals’ captain Ajinkya Rahane used five bowlers in first five overs and it was Australian Ben Laughlin who got the first success as he removed Rayudu in the fifth. However already 50 runs were on the board and it was Watson who was the danger man.

 

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