What happened there? Whistle podu, Rajasthan style. When Chennai Super Kings slammed 189, it seemed Ruturaj Gaikwad’s beautifully-violent hundred would be the talk of the town, but Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shivam Dube brutally shoved CSK aside to reach the target with 2.3 overs to spare.

Perhaps, it was the longer boundaries of Abu Dhabi that made the Chennai bowlers think they could bounce out the openers Jaiswal and Evin Lewis. Mistake. The white ball kept flying into the desert night as the fifty came in the fourth over and by the end of five, they were whistling along at 75. It wasn’t the short ball that was a problem but instead the heights. The two batsmen didn’t have to hook anything, comfortable pulls did the job as the deliveries repeatedly sat up below chest high. The fifth over of the chase from Josh Hazlewood went for three sixes and a four as Jaiswal crunched two boundaries off pulls and when over-compensatory half-volleys were served, he creamed two more to the cover boundary. It was all ridiculously easy. Lewis wasn’t even made to dust off his drives as they repeatedly bowled short and he kept pulling them.

By the time the short ball took out the openers – Lewis was caught on the boundary and Jaiswal made the mistake of getting down too early to make the short ball a proper bouncer – the score was 81/2 in 6.1 overs.

Watch it here 🎥 👇https://t.co/Jg2Vk2ZYwE

In this season’s IPL script, that would have been the apt time for Chennai to do their magic and pull the rug from under Rajasthan’s feet. Not Saturday night, though. And the Royals’ surge didn’t even come from the usual suspect Sanju Samson. Just as the commentators were talking about the need for a captain’s knock from him, Dube decided that he would do it.

Now, if Chennai were too short against the openers, they went the other way with Dube. Tall and almost still with his feet – he doesn’t go too much forward or back but bends his knees to drive his power much like a golfer – Dube wasn’t forced to change his game at all. They bowled into his zone, and he kept springing his knees and exploding his long arms through the line.

Ravindra Jadeja started him off with an overpitched delivery that was thrown back from the long-on stands. Moeen Ali too got the same treatment soon, the six seemed to be sucked into the night sky before it thudded into the ground behind the long-on boundary. Sam Curran decided to trouble him even less and served a couple of full tosses which were tossed away to the boundary. Hazlewood too served some tripe wide outside off and the game was done with two-and-half overs left.

The most aesthetically pleasing knock of the evening was from Gaikwad. “It seems as if nearly all his shots are appropriate shots for that ball,” Surendra Bhave, a former player who has coached Gaikwad’s Ranji team Maharashtra, would say after the knock. Perhaps that’s the best summation possible about Gaikwad’s batting. He is extremely fluent on his front-foot drives – a caressed straight drive off the first ball of the match still lingers in the mind – but is equally adept off the back foot. “That has come in the last three-four years,” Bhave says.

1⃣0⃣1⃣* Runs 6⃣0⃣ Balls 9⃣ Fours 5⃣ Sixes

Sit back & relish this brilliant knock 🎥 👇https://t.co/TZmS0HrNNX

Gaikwad reached his fifty off 41 balls but raced to his hundred in the next 19 deliveries. The change in tempo came with a flurry off boundaries off leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia before he unfurled his stylish pick-up shots over backward square-leg off the seamers. He was on 95 when the last over started and it seemed he would be stranded as Ravindra Jadeja went after Mustafizur Rahman in some style. Two astonishing Jadeja hits in particular are worth registering on these pages. Anticipating yorkers, Jadeja knelt his back knee on the ground and somehow, incredibly, found enough wrist power to swat a six and a four. We have seen such shots from crouched positions but to get the knee down on the ground and still find that power and timing was quite something. Be that as it may, it meant Gaikwad had just two deliveries to reach his ton and he failed to connect with the first. But off the last ball of the innings, he pulled the ball into orbit, had one look at the disappearing trail and turned around to begin his celebrations. It all seemed hunky dory for Chennai at that point but boy, were they in for a brutal shock.

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