Rajasthan Royals skipper Ajinkya Rahane surprised everyone with his decision to make Ben Stokes open the innings with Jos Buttler against Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 11 match on Friday. Chasing 177 at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, the Royals began on a positive note as Buttler smashed David Willey for three consecutive fours on the first three deliveries of the innings as 13 runs came from the first over itself.
Seeing the hosts’ attacking approach, CSK skipper MS Dhoni decided to make Harbhajan Singh bowl the second over with hopes of not letting the under-fire Ben Stokes unleash his batting firepower. The move seemed to have backfired for the visitors as Bhajji went for went for 14 runs in the next over.
After a tight 6-run third over by Ravindra Jadeja, who had replaced Willey, Harbhajan continued from the other end. Stokes looked to do exactly what Buttler has been so far and hit Bhajji for a back-to-back six and a four on the 4th and 5th deliveries of the over. The veteran Indian off-spinner, however, made a solid comeback on the very next delivery and bowled the English all-rounder.
Despite taking Stokes’ wicket in that over, Harbhajan wasn’t asked to bowl another over by skipper Dhoni. The Turbanator ended with the figures of 1/29 in two overs and was the team’s most expensive bowler in terms of the economy rate.
As for the match, Jos Buttler remained not out as his match-winning 95 of 60 deliveries played a pivotal role in ensuring Rajasthan Royals extend their survival in the league, with the hope of a qualification into the playoffs very much up and alive.
The Super Kings captain, Dhoni, was specifically critical of his team’s bowling performance against the Royals. The wicket-keeper batsman didn’t shy away from expressing his anger during the post-match presentation where he stressed on the fact at how bowlers failed to execute the plans handed over to them by him.