Rajasthan Royals (RR) on Friday became the third team to make it to the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 playoffs. In their last league-stage game, the Sanju Samson-led side edged past the defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by 5 wickets to finish 2nd on the points table, dethroning Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) with a superior net run rate. The Royals will now face table-toppers Gujarat Titans in the first Qualifier at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 24.

In pursuit of a 151-run target, RR suffered an early blow in the form of Jos Buttler right in the first over. Fast bowler Simarjeet Singh undone the highest-run getter of the season with a full outswinger. Buttler edged the ball straight to Moeen Ali at the first slip, departing for just 2 off 5 deliveries.

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Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal then joined hands with Sanju Samson and the duo stitched a 51-run stand for the 2nd wicket. While the former did most of the hitting, the RR captain stood strongly held the other end and allowed the youngster to express himself.

The partnership could have gone further but Mitchell Santner struck in the ninth over and got the better of Samson by taking a sharp return catch. Sanju was caught and bowled for 15 while RR were reduced to 67/2.

Jaiswal took the onus of the chase after the dismissal of his skipper and scored a brilliant half-century off 39 balls. It was his 2nd fifty this season and it came on a very fine occasion and against the defending champions. He ended up scoring 59 in 44 deliveries, including 8 boundaries and a six, before falling prey to Prashant Solanki. The young leg spinner also took down Shimron Hetmyer (6) to return with figures of 2/20 in 2 overs.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan lost one of their trusted batters in Devdutt Padikkal for 3 in 9 deliveries. His dismissal made way for the game-changer of the game – Ravichandran Ashwin who returned unbeaten on 40 for 23, ensuring a comprehensive victory for the Royals.

Earlier, Moeen Ali blazed away in the power play but slowed down considerably thereafter as Chennai Super Kings struggled to 150 for 6. He ended up scoring 93 off 57 balls with 13 fours and three sixes.

However, after being at the receiving end of Moeen’s brutal onslaught during which the England all-rounder made a bowler of Trent Boult’s calibre look like an uncapped player by bludgeoning him for 26 runs in an over, the RR bowling unit made a fine comeback.

Dhoni smoked Prasidh Krishna for a six over deep midwicket at the beginning of the next over, but the seamer came back strongly in the remaining five balls.

To start with, CSK were 3 for one after two overs but Devon Conway and Moeen broke loose after that, scoring 12 and 18 runs in the next two overs and getting the yellow brigade’s innings up and running.

Moeen was getting the big shots going with consummate ease, even as Conway looked on from the other end. He reached his half-century with an uppercut over the third man boundary off Boult.

Before that, Prasidh conceded 18 runs in an over which forced Sanju Samson to introduce the experienced Ravichandran Ashwin (1/28) into the attack, but he too was struck for 16 runs by Moeen.

(With PTI Inputs)

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