Chennai:Albie Morkel's heroic 71 took Chennai to within two blows of an unlikely win, but Rajasthan Royals prevailed by 10 runs.
Both teams went toe to toe in this Chidambaram thriller and it all came down to 15 from the last six as Chennai chased 212. Sohail Tanvir kept to his form and bowled a clever mix of slower ones and yorkers, restricting Chennai to just four in the over.
The chase had been built on two aggressive innings by Parthiv Patel and Suresh Raina. Patel made 54 and Raina 45 to set the stage for Morkel, who scored his runs on just 40 balls. Morkel was on strike with 11 needed from the last two balls, but he hit a slower one straight to fine leg.
Rajasthan had elected to bat and their batsmen never took their foot off the pedal. Their attack was incessant --- first it was Graeme Smith (91) and Swapnil Asnodkar (41), and then Kamran Akmal (53) who provided fireworks in plenty.
Smith and Asnodkar added 127 in just eleven overs for the first wicket. Their hitting was clean, their strike rotation precise and the young batsman from Goa would have learnt much from his illustrious South African pro.
Asnodkar was run out, taking on MS Dhoni's arm at cover. Smith perished going for broke when he was in sight of his first T20 hundred. But Akmal, who had been benched for much of the tournament, came out one-down to smash a 26-ball fifty.
Chennai needed to go for glory from ball one with the run rate just over 11. Stephen Fleming was run out in the second over. His long legs couldn't save him from Tanvir's powerful arm, which sent a throw rocketing in from third man.
Here, Patel and Raina decided that they would unsettle Munaf Patel's military medium. Raina used his feet to good effect against Munaf, hitting him for 19 in his second over to set the pace.
Warne's ploy to open the bowling with Yusuf Pathan didn't work. Raina was harsh on the spinner, who went for 31 runs in his 3 overs.
Raina, having hit 45 from 24, pulled a short ball from Shane Warne to deep midwicket. Patel, having batted doggedly for his maiden IPL fifty, was stumped off Warne's final delivery.
Morkel battled the mounting run rate and, for once, displayed the big hits that had earned him a name in last year's World T20.
But at the other end, the backup for Morkel was running thin. In the end, Chennai blinked first and that was it for them.
The Super Kings remain at third place with the loss, with 14 points.