Pune (Maharashtra) [India], Apr 21 (ANI): Opener Shane Watson's blistering 106 and some tight bowling helped Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to hand the Rajasthan Royals (RR) a 64-run defeat and to go to the top of the table at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Friday.
Earlier, RR led by Ajinkya Rahane won the toss and put CSK into bat first, in what was the first match between the two sides in three years after serving a two-year ban in the wake of the 2013 spot-fixing scandal.
Playing their first 'home' game after matches were shifted out from Chennai, due to ongoing Cauvery protests, Watson, who was with the opponent franchise from 2008-2015, thrashed the Rajasthan bowlers all over the park as he helped to take Chennai into a dominant position right from the beginning.
The 36-year-old swashbuckling Australian all-rounder gave Chennai a rapid start as the team raced to 50 runs in less than five overs, courtesy a dropped chance in the very first over of the game.
With no assistance on offer, the RR bowlers needed to be disciplined with their line and length, but they were guilty of bowling either too full or short to Watson, as he freed his arms and found the fence regularly.
Watson was ably supported by Suresh Raina (46) as the southpaw brought his third IPL century and the second overall ton in this year's cash-rich season as he propelled the two-time champions to an imposing 204 for 5 in their 20 overs. He smashed nine fours and six towering sixes during his 57-ball innings.
For Rajasthan, spinner Shreyas Gopal was the pick of the bowlers, scalping 3 for 20, as he tried to put on the brakes on Chennai's innings. He accounted for skipper MS Dhoni, Raina and English batsman Sam Billings. The rest of the bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Watson.
Chasing 205, RR was never into the game as CSK bowlers bowled tight lines to not allow the Rajasthan batsmen to get away.
While the English duo, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler played extravagant shots and tried to keep the scoreboard ticking for the 2008 champions, they did not get the support of other RR batsmen and were bundled out for 140 in 18.3 overs.
For Chennai, Deepak Chahar (2 for 30), Shardul Thakur (2 for 18), Dwayne Bravo (2 for 16) and Karn Sharma (2 for 13) took two wickets apiece, while Shane Watson (1 for 13) and spinner Imran Tahir (1 for 44) scalped a wicket each.
With this loss, Rajasthan slumped to their third loss and are languishing in the sixth position with four points (two wins, three losses), while Chennai jumped to the top spot with six points (three wins, one loss).
On April 21, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will now lock horns against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata at 4 pm, while Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) would be looking to get back to its winning ways against Delhi Daredevils at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru at 8 pm. (ANI)