Irrepressible fast bowler Jofra Archer smashed a late cameo before returning to prise out top-scorer Faf du Plessis in a miserly spell as he helped propel Rajasthan Royals to a convincing 16-run win over Chennai Super Kings in a high-scoring contest in the Indian Premier League yesterday.
Asked to bat first in their first outing of the tournament, Royals piled up an imposing 216 for seven off their 20 overs – the fourth highest total in franchise history.
Sanju Samson blasted 74 from 32 deliveries with a four and nine astonishing sixes while Australian Steve Smith stroked 69 from 47 with four fours and sixes.
With the innings losing momentum when Smith fell to the second ball of the penultimate over, the Barbados-born England star Archer exploded in the final over to launch massive sixes off the first four deliveries to finish unbeaten on 27 from just eight balls.
In reply, the in-form du Plessis top-scored with 72 off 37 deliveries with a four and seven sixes and Australian Shane Watson chipped in with 33 from 21 but leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia snatched three for 37 to help stall the run chase.
With every bowler proving expensive, however, Archer was superb with the new ball, giving up just 26 runs from his four overs and knocking over du Plessis in the penultimate over to end any outside chance Chennai had of victory.
Royals lost Yashasvi Jaiswal cheaply for six in the third over with 11 runs but Smith and Samson then tore into Chennai’s attack in a 121-run, second wicket stand.
Once Samson holed out to deep cover in the 12th over off South African pacer Lungi Ngidi, Royals lost six wickets for 46 runs but Archer’s fireworks at the end off Ngidi spectacularly lifted them past the 200-run mark.
Fresh from outstanding performances in the limited overs series against Australia which ended last week, Archer conceded just nine runs from his first two overs in the power-play but Watson and Murali Vijay (21) still put on 56 off 40 balls for the first wicket.
When Watson missed a pull off Tewatia and was bowled in the seventh over, Chennai lost four wickets for 21 runs before du Plessis posted 37 for the fifth wicket with Kedar Jadhav (22) and a further 65 for the sixth with captain MS Dhoni (29 not out) to lead a revival.
With Chennai needing 48 runs from the last two overs, the 25-year-old Archer struck the killer blow when he had du Plessis caught at the wicket, failing to deal with a quick, short delivery.