Ravichandran Ashwin stole the show from Moeen Ali as the Rajasthan Royals beat the Chennai Super Kings by five wickets on Friday.
Promoted to the middle order, Ashwin hit two fours and three sixes in his 23-ball 40*. The Indian off-spinner also took 1-28 to eclipse an all-round performance by England’s Ali who hit a 57-ball 93 and took 1-21 in his four-over spell.
While the MS Dhoni-led Chennai were already out of IPL playoff contention, a top-two finish ensures Rajasthan get two shots at winning the trophy at the business end of the tournament.
Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson (15 off 20) gave good support to opener Yashasvi Jaiswal (59 off 44) after his in-form partner Jos Buttler made just two.
Buttler was the only one of five Rajasthan wickets to fall to pace. Samson was dismissed by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner and was quickly followed by Devdutt Padikkal (three) to Ali’s spin.
Shimron Hetmyer scored seven before losing his wicket to rookie spinner Prashant Solanki, who also sent Jaiswal packing.
Ashwin, supported by Riyan Parag (10*), won the match in the last over of the chase.
Earlier, smart bowling by Rajasthan spinners Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal, who took 2-26 in his four overs, put a brake on Chennai scoring after Ali’s initial blitzkrieg.
Ali, who hit 13 fours and three sixes, propelled Chennai to 94-3 after the first 10 overs.
He came to the crease early after Chennai openers Ruturaj Gaikwad (two) and Devon Conway (16) had been dismissed by New Zealand’s Trent Boult and Ashwin respectively.
Obed McCoy and Chahal then picked up the wickets of Narayan Jagadeesan (one) and Ambati Rayudu (three).
Dhoni scored a scratchy 28-ball 26 in partnership with Ali before falling to Chahal but failed to provide the much-needed momentum in the second half of the Chennai innings as they finished on 150-6.
© Agence France-Presse