IPL 2013: Watson Century In Vain As Chennai Win
Chennai Super Kings 186-5 (Hussey 88) beat
Rajasthan Royals 185-4 by five wickets
Indian Premier League 2013, Chennai
Report by John Pennington
Shane Watson struck the first century of the Indian Premier League 2013 but even that wasn't enough to stop Chennai Super Kings beating Rajasthan Royals by five wickets.
In a repeat of the 2008 final, Chennai reversed the result by closing on 186 for five with a ball to spare in reply to Rajasthan's Watson-propelled 185 for four.
The former Australia vice-captain thumped six fours and six sixes in an imperious innings of 101 in 61 balls as he underpinned Rajasthan's impressive score.
Nevertheless, two-times champion side Chennai hit back and thanks to half-centuries from Michael Hussey (88) and Suresh Raina (51), earned their fifth win, becoming the third team behind Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad to reach double figures, overtaking both to sit on top of the table due to a superior net run-rate.
Watson dominated an opening partnership of 71 with Ajinkya Rahane, whose contribution was just 16 and although Dinesh Yagnik (7) and Rahul Dravid (6) fell cheaply it hardly mattered with Watson blasting away at the other end.
Stuart Binny added a cameo of 36 not out in 22 balls with three fours and a six to ensure Rajasthan reached their highest score of the tournament so far, shortly after Dwayne Bravo had taken the wickets of Watson and Dravid to return two for 36. Ravichandran Ashwin picked up two for 20.
Murali Vijay was quickly removed by Ajit Chandila, who had him caught and bowled for three, but like Rajasthan, Chennai had their own former sometime leader of Australia at the top of the order, and Hussey proceeded to hit 88 in 51 balls with 13 fours and a six.
He formed a fruitful partnership with Raina, whose best effort of this year's tournament came at the perfect time for the men in yellow, his 51 in 35 deliveries helping Hussey add 90 for the second wicket.
Raina fell to James Faulkner, who then had Ravindra Jadeja bowled for nought and Mahendra Singh Dhoni trapped in front for 21 after Hussey had been run out by Dravid to set up a tense finish with the score on 175 for six at the end of the 18th over.
Bravo, who had played a key role with the ball, stepped up to finish off the job with 15 not out in nine balls, including the six over cover off Watson, entrusted with the final over, which all but sealed the match, although he still had to find four from the next two balls to finally clinch Chennai a memorable win in front of their own crowd.
Whoever won today's match would have likely jumped to the top of the table and although obviously disappointed to have failed to defend 185, Rajasthan remain in fourth place. What will be a concern is that for the first time this year, they have lost two games on the trot.
Chennai, meanwhile, have won three in a row and already look on course for another appearance in the play-offs.
© Cricket World 2013
Open an account with bet365 today and qualify for up to £200 in free bets with our fantastic 100% Deposit Bonus.