Steve Smith’s striking 69 helped the Rajasthan Royals to ensure a win against Chennai Super Kings to open their IPL campaign.
The remarkable 121-run partnership of Rajasthan Royals’ skipper with Sanju Samson, who belted an incredible 74 off 32, inspired a 7/216 and 16-run win, in a match that produced a record-equalling 33 sixes.
Smith, who entered the match after suffering a concussion in England, contributed four sixes and four fours, while Samson belted nine. England pacemen Jofra Archer also smashed with a stunning four sixes in the final over.
The opening partnership of Shane Watson, as well as Murali Vijay, built a strong foundation, reaching their fifty in the opening six overs before Watson fell on 33 runs in the seventh.
South African Faff du Plessis entered the fray and went after the total with three sixes off Jaydev Unadkat to bring up his fifty and push the Super Kings’ total out to 160 before he eventually fell with an Archer bouncer.
Skipper MS Dhoni also provided some fight, hitting three sixes in the final over. However, it wasn’t enough as Chennai ended on 200/6.
“With 217 on the board, you have to get a very good start, that was not the case,” Dhoni said.
“Without singling out anyone, a controllable we could have controlled is no-balls. Had we not bowled no-balls, we would have been chasing 200, and it would have been a very good game.”
After suffering a hit to the helmet that forced Smith to miss three one-day matches for Australian against England, he was in doubt regarding his participation in the IPL 2020. However, he passed a concussion test and proved him again with his spectacular performance.
“Sanju Samson played an unbelievable knock, (it) felt like everything he was hitting went for six,” Smith said.
“On this wicket, it was all about trying to avoid straight hits for the spinners. A couple of balls were fuller and got above the eye-line but the idea was to stay back of a length.”