Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad hit his maiden Indian Premier League century but failed to inspire Chennai Super Kings who were outplayed by Rajasthan Royals on Saturday.
Gaikwad’s unbeaten 101 in 60 balls steered Chennai, who have already qualified for the play-offs and stay top of the table, to 189-4 after being invited to bat first in Abu Dhabi.
Royals overhauled their target in 17.3 overs with Shivam Dube unbeaten on 64 as they won by seven wickets to keep their play-off hopes alive.
The Royals were helped in the second innings by a massive no ball from England quick Sam Curran, who lost his grip on the ball and it landed miles away from the pitch.
The highlight remained Gaikwad’s knock which was laced with nine fours and five sixes as the batsman reached his hundred with a hit over the fence on the final ball of Chennai’s innings.
Gaikwad put on key partnerships including an unbeaten stand of 55 with Ravindra Jadeja, who made 32, to become the tournament’s leading batsman with 508 runs in 12 matches.
“Unbelievable batting by Gaikwad, we’re afraid of a batsman like him. Really a lot of respect to him,” Royals skipper Sanju Samson said in praise of Gaikwad, who was named man of the match.
It was the first ton of the revived IPL in the United Arab Emirates and fourth of the Covid-hit season that was halted in May amid a raging pandemic in India.
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Royals came all guns blazing in their reply as openers Evin Lewis (27) and Yashaswi Jaiswal (50) set up the chase that was kept up by Samson, Dube and Glenn Phillips, 14 not out.
Royals moved to sixth, ahead of holders Mumbai Indians, who lost to Delhi Capitals in the first match of the day, in the eight-team table.
In Sharjah, Avesh Khan’s bowling figures of 3-15 and an unbeaten 33 by Shreyas Iyer helped Delhi eye a top-two league finish with a four-wicket win over Mumbai.
Khan and spinner Axar Patel took three wickets each to help restrict five-time champions Mumbai to 129-8, a total Delhi surpassed in 19.1 overs on a sluggish pitch.
Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai, who have lost three of their last four matches, need to win their remaining two to have any chance of making the play-offs.
“If your batters aren’t going to post runs on the board, it will be difficult to win games,” said Sharma.
“We are not playing to our potential. Hopefully in the next two games, we play the way we are known for.”