Buttler’s 95no keeps Rajasthan alive in IPL

JAIPUR, India (AP) Jos Buttler hit a sensational 95 not out off 60 balls to help Rajasthan Royals beat Chennai Super Kings by four wickets and stay alive in the Indian Premier League on Friday.

In reply to Chennai’s 176-4, Buttler’s third consecutive half-century helped Rajasthan make 177-6 with a ball to spare.

Rajasthan started its chase well. Allrounder Ben Stokes (11) was elevated to open with English compatriot Buttler and they put on 48 off only 24 balls.

But Stokes and skipper Ajinkya Rahane (4) fell in the space of five balls.

Sanju Samson (21) recovered and put on 46 runs for the third wicket with Buttler, who reached his fourth half-century of the league off 26 balls.

After Samson was run out, Buttler took charge of the innings as he hit 11 fours and two sixes during his knock.

Stuart Binny’s 22 off 17 balls and Krishnappa Gowtham’s (13) four-ball cameo including two sixes helped the chase, though they fell close to the finish line.

Buttler smashed 12 runs off the last over to keep Rajasthan in contention for an improbable knockouts’ spot.

”I haven’t quite hit my straps in the IPL, so it was special to be not out in the end and get my side home,” Buttler said. ”The wicket played well and I just tried to capitalize on that.”

This was after Suresh Raina (52) played anchor during Chennai’s innings and guided them to a defendable total.

The visitors reverted to their former opening pairing of Ambati Rayudu (12) and Shane Watson (39).

Jofra Archer (2-42) bowled Rayudu cheaply, but Watson and Raina put on 86 runs off 56 balls for the second wicket.

Chennai, well placed at 105-1, then lost both set batsmen within 10 balls. Watson was Archer’s second dismissal.

Raina completed his third half-century off 32 balls, and fell to legspinner Ish Sodhi just when his team was looking to accelerate.

It was left to Mahendra Singh Dhoni (33 off 23 balls) again. He put on 55 runs off 40 balls with Sam Billings (27 off 22 balls) to propel the Chennai innings.

The visitors’ bowling let them down again, however, resulting in their second loss in three matches.

”Bowling was the reason (for the defeat),” Dhoni said.

”We instructed bowlers what they needed to do but the execution went haywire, not the planning. The bowlers let us down. We need to be winning games, not just qualify for the knockouts.”