Returning Rajasthan Royals captain Shane Watson has smashed 73 in a crushing IPL win over the Chennai Super Kings.
Watson, who missed the first four matches with a hip injury, hit four sixes amongst his 47 balls in Ahmedabad on Sunday to ensure a comfortable eight-wicket victory with 10 balls to spare.
The 33-year-old right-hander combined for a 144-run opening stand with man-of-the-match Ajinkya Rahane (76 not out), before eventually falling to a Ravindra Jadeja yorker.
But it was more than enough to ensure the Royals extended their unbeaten start to the season to five games.
The partnership was the highest of this IPL season, bettering the 131-run effort by Mumbai Indians pair Rohit Sharma and Corey Anderson against Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening match.
It also trounced the club’s previous best opening partnership – a 135-run stand between Graeme Smith and Naman Ojha in Durban, South Africa, in 2009.
“The pitch was a little bit slow and little bit dry, but we summed up the conditions pretty quickly and the bowlers bowled well to give ourselves the best chance,” Watson said.
Fellow Australian and former stand-in skipper Steve Smith suffered a rare failure at first drop for Rajasthan, caught and bowled for six with the scores level.
James Faulkner (1-26) gave the Royals a much-needed boost when he clean bowled Chennai opener Dwayne Smith, stopping the West Indian in his tracks after a 40-run hit-out off 29 balls.
Faulkner also caught Brendon McCullum (12).
LEADING RUN-SCORERS IN THE IPL:
Ajinkya Rahane, Rajasthan Royals – 231
Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians – 190
George Bailey, Kings XI Punjab – 164
Dwayne Smith, Chennai Super Kings – 163
Brendon McCullum, Chennai Super Kings – 162
Kieron Pollard, Mumbai Indians – 159
David Warner, Sunrisers Hyderabad – 159
Steve Smith, Rajasthan Royals – 141
Chris Gayle, Royal Challengers Bangalore – 127
Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata Knight Riders – 126