Chennai: Chennai Super Kings got their title defence back on track with a chase that covered the spectrum from blue to yellow and all the colours in between against Cape Cobras. Michael Hussey got the pursuit of 146 off to a positive start, but JP Duminy's four wickets wrested the advantage back, and put the Cape Cobras in the pound seat. MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo's 43-run partnership helped Chennai recover but Vernon Philander dismissed Dhoni to give the Cobras another sniff. Then, Bravo made a mockery of Dale Steyn, scoring 17 runs off his last over, the 19th of the innings, to paint the Chidamabaram Stadium in the colour of the home team.
With 23 runs required off the last two overs, Chennai needed someone to launch them over the line, and Bravo took it upon himself to do so. First, he mowed a Steyn slower ball which turned into a full toss over midwicket, and carved the next delivery behind point for four, before playing a classy inside-out cover drive to ensure the Super Kings succeeded in a tricky chase on a slow pitch.
Hussey set the tone when he picked up from where he left against the Mumbai Indians with an authoritative knock upfront. In M Vijay's company, he put the Super Kings on the right path before Duminy came on to bowl. He started bowling in the Powerplay and did not hesitate to flight the ball, drawing Hussey forward and giving Dane Vilas enough time to complete the stumping.
Justin Ontong extracted good turn and bounce from his end, and Duminy capitalised on the pressure he was creating. In his second over, Duminy enticed S Badrinath to play a lofted drive straight to short cover. A quiet third over was followed by an eventful fourth in which Duminy got rid of Wriddhiman Saha who swept to deep square leg, and Suresh Raina who played too early and handed a return catch.
MS Dhoni held himself back and came out at No.6, at a time when the Super Kings needed to play catch-up. Dhoni and Bravo played cautiously for three boundary-less overs against Robin Peterson's crafty spin, Philander's slower balls and Justin Kemp's offcutters. Bravo broke the drought when Philander got his line wrong and allowed the pull to fine leg.
Duminy then turned from hero to villain by over-running a Dhoni catch at deep cover, and the Cobras' fortunes worsened from that moment. Bravo unleashed a six over extra cover off a Philander slower ball to keep the asking-rate under control. Even Dhoni's departure did not affect his resolve, and he hauled Chennai to their first win.
The Cobras would have rued not scoring enough runs after being dragged back from a position where they looked set to score over 170. They had a stuttering start, when R Ashwin trapped Richard Levi lbw with his first delivery. Herschelle Gibbs fizzed for a while, but fell after trying to pull a length ball from Doug Bollinger.
Thereafter, Owais Shah's responsible, yet busy knock and his partnership with Duminy troubled Chennai. The pair complemented each other, with Duminy the energiser and Shah the sage. Albie Morkel removed both in the same over to peg the Cobras back just when they looked set to take off.
With the pressure building and the Super Kings deploying a series of slower deliveries, some of which were a touch short, the Cobras became edgy. Bravo's variations proved particularly problematic and the innings ended with the Cobras unable to find a boundary off any of the last 29 deliveries. Bravo's real contribution, however, came much later in the piece.