Sharjah played host to a royal battle in IPL 2020 as the Rajasthan Royals opened their campaign against the mighty Chennai Super Kings.
MS Dhoni once again won the toss and once again, elected to field.
Royals skipper Steve Smith opened the innings along with debutant Yashasvi Jaiswal. The pair made a slow start, managing just 11 runs in 14 balls before Jaiswal was sent packing by Deepak Chahar.
However, his wicket worked out well for Rajasthan as in walked Sanju Samson who let loose a flurry of boundaries.
Rajasthan managed 54 runs for the loss of one wicket in the powerplay, with Samson taking a particular liking to the spin of Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla.
Samson smashed a 19-ball fifty, equalling Owais Shah’s feat of the second fastest half century for the Royals.
It was Lungi Ngidi who eventually brought the Samson storm to an end in the 12th over. Samson hit 9 sixes and 1 four in his score of 74 off 32 balls.
Rajasthan lost David Miller in the same over, run out for a duck.
Robin Uthappa managed just 5 runs before being dismissed by Chawla. At this stage the Royals were at 149/4 after 14.1 overs.
Smith got stuck in at the other end and while his innings wasn’t the slam-bang one that he is very capable of, his knock of 69 off 47 balls was key as wickets fell at the other end.
When the last over began, the Royals had managed a strong total of 186/7 and had Jofra Archer and Tom Curran at the crease.
Lungi Ngidi was handed the ball and thus began perhaps the worst over he has ever bowled.
The very first ball was a missed yorker and was smashed by Archer straight over the bowler’s head for a six.
The second ball went over mid-wicket with the same result only bigger as it went over the roof.
This was followed by two more sixes - both of which were also no-balls - and then a wide to immediately follow. This meant that Ngidi had gone for 27 runs off two legal balls.
The Chennai pacer pulled it back in the last four balls of the innings but the damage had been done as Rajasthan notched up a mighty 216/7 in their 20 overs. Samson, Smith and Archer had hit 17 sixes between them.
The Super Kings' chase saw openers Shane Watson and Murali Vijay manage just eight runs off the first two overs, with no boundaries.
However, Watson in particular began to pick up pace and it looked like Chennai might make a fight of it after all.
However, after having smashed 4 sixes and 1 four, Watson had his stumps rattled by legspinner Rahul Tewatia, dismissed for 33 off 21 balls.
Murali Vijay was gone in the next over, out for a run-a-ball 21. Chennai at 58/2 after 7.3 overs.
Sam Curran’s 17 off 6 balls gave the Chennai innings a little impetus but he was soon gone too, dismissed by Tewatia. Rituraj Gaikwad was stumped off the very next ball as well and Chennai were struggling at 77/4.
As wickets fell around him, du Plessis, who had been far below his best till that point, suddenly got into the act with a late six-hitting wave, including a 21-run over off Jaydev Unadkat.
Like in the first match, he once again crossed the half-century mark but his 72 off 37 balls came a little too late.
Many were surprised at how low down the order Dhoni came out, especially with his team struggling against a big score. The last over of the match saw three sixes from Dhoni but by then the target had gone out of CSK’s reach.
Rajasthan Royals won by 16 runs with Samson named Man of the Match.