Rajasthan Royals upset Indian Premier League leader Chennai Super Kings with a seven-wicket victory.

Rajasthan Royals upset Indian Premier League leader Chennai Super Kings with a seven-wicket victory on Saturday to keep its playoff hopes alive, despite a rapid-fire century by Chennai opener Ruturaj Gaikwad.

Chennai had already secured its place in the playoffs, along with Delhi Capitals which beat Mumbai Indians by four wickets in Sharjah. Rajasthan are in a four-way battle for the final playoff spot with two games to play.

Put into bat, Chennai scored 189-4 thanks to a 60-ball 101 not out from Gaikwad. The opener hit nine fours and five sixes, sharing a rapid 55 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (32 not out off 15) after the pair came together in the 17th over. Spinner Rahul Tewatia took 3-39.

Gaikwad’s reached his hundred with a hit over the fence off Mustafizur Rahman on the final ball of Chennai’s innings for his maiden IPL ton. It was the first century of the revived IPL in the United Arab Emirates and the fourth of the Covid-hit season that was halted in May due to the pandemic in India.

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 of Gaikwad, who was named man of the match.

Rajasthan reached 190-3 with 15 balls to spare after openers Evin Lewis (27 off 12) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (50 off 21) propelled the side to 77-1 after only 5.2 overs. Shivam Dube top-scored with 64 not out off 42 deliveries. Shardul Thakar ended with 2-30.

After 12 games, Chennai and second-placed Delhi both have 18 points, while Rajasthan and Mumbai are on 10 points.

Earlier, in a low-scoring game, Mumbai reached 129-8 off 20 overs after being asked to bat, with Suryakumar Yadav hitting 33 runs off 26. Pacer Avesh Khan impressed with the ball to take 3-15 in his four overs.

In reply, Delhi finished on 132-6 with five deliveries to spare thanks to a 33-ball 33 not out from Shreyas Iyer.

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