Rajasthan books place in IPL playoffs qualifier
MUMBAI, India (AP) — Rajasthan Royals booked a spot in the Indian Premier League playoffs qualifier after edging Chennai Super Kings by five wickets on Friday.
Rajasthan overtook Lucknow Super Giants on run rate to finish second in league play. Rajasthan will meet the league-leading Gujarat Titans on Tuesday for a straight shot at the final.
Lucknow’s opponent in the playoffs eliminator on Wednesday will be known after Delhi Capitals meet Mumbai Indians on Saturday. If Delhi wins it advances, otherwise Royal Challengers Bangalore will qualify.
Ravichandran Ashwin, promoted up the batting order, made an unbeaten 40 off 23 balls for Rajasthan to win with two balls left. The Royals made 151-5 in reply to Chennai’s 150-6.
Chennai’s 10th defeat in 14 games wasted Moeen Ali’s brilliant 93. Left-handed Ali smashed a half-century off only 19 balls. He hit 13 fours and three sixes.
Ashwin, who was smashed for 16 runs in his first over during the batting powerplay, gave away only 12 more runs in his next three overs to finish with 1-28.
Chennai raced to 75-1 on the back of Ali’s powerful hitting. The Englishman clobbered 26 runs in Trent Boult’s one over which included a first-ball six and five boundaries.
But Chennai’s struggling middle order was tied down by Ashwin and IPL leading wicket-taker Yuzvendra Chahal (2-26). Fast bowler Obed McCoy picked up 2-20, including Ali caught at long off in the last over.
Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, dropped on 0 and 3 by Rajasthan skipper Sanju Samson behind the wickets, labored to 26 off 28 balls.
Jos Buttler, the only IPL batter with more than 600 runs, fell for only 2 in the second over of Rajasthan’s chase, but his opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal made a fine 59 before getting caught in the deep in the 15th over.
Ashwin, who smashed three sixes and two fours, scored the bulk of the runs in an unbroken 39-run sixth-wicket stand with Riyan Parag which took the game away from Chennai.
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