Mahendra Singh Dhoni produced yet another of his trademark innings, buidling on contributions from Michael Hussey and the bowlers to ensure that Chennai Super Kings got past Sunrisers Hyderabad in a game of cat-and-mouse in the Pepsi Indian Premier League at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Thursday (April 25).
Chasing 160 for victory, Chennai required 28 runs in the last two overs, Dhoni, who remained unbeaten on 67 off 37 balls, hit Dale Steyn for 13 runs in the penultimate over. Though Steyn removed Ravindra Jadeja, Dhoni had enough gas in the tank to take 15 off the final over sent down by an erratic Ashish Reddy to seal the deal for Chennai, who won by five wickets with two deliveries to spare.
It meant Shikhar Dhawan's unbeaten 45-ball 63 on his comeback after recovering from a fractured finger went in vain despite Hyderabad posting a competitive 159 for 6. (Related read: Dhoni wants more yorkers from his bowlers)
Chennai got off to a flying start in their chase as Hussey and Murali Vijay put on 65 in 45 balls. Hussey continued his good form as he cut Steyn with panache and stepped out to hit Darren Sammy for six over extra-cover. At the other end, Vijay hit a few sweetly timed shots as he desperately tried to regain form. (Stats from the match)
The pair took sharp singles, manoeuvred the ball and dominated to such an extent that Cameron White, the Hyderabad captain, introduced five bowling options within the Power Play.
Amit Mishra struck twice in two overs to bring back Hyderabad into the game. First, he deceived Vijay, who stepped out to play against the turn and was stumped by Quinton de Kock for 18. Hussey failed to execute a sweep shot and the ball ricocheted off his pad to the back of his bat and de Kock completed a smart catch. Hussey's 45, laced with five fours and two sixes, came in 26 balls. (Pics from the match)
With the game back in the balance, White brought back Steyn in the 11th over but Mishra failed to reach a top edge from Dhoni at fine-leg in what turned out to be the decisive passage of play.
Mishra compensated for his lapse by having Suresh Raina caught at long-on shortly after that, but Dhoni capitalised on his life by playing an array of strokes. Karan Sharma produced a maiden in the 16th over but Dhoni's consecutive sixes off Steyn in the next over swung the momentum for good in Chennai's favour. In all, Dhoni hit seven fours and four sixes.
Earlier in the evening, Chennai bowlers largely bowled back of length deliveries and were successful as they produced 14 single-digit overs. A strong fielding unit ably backed them up and it resulted in Hyderabad losing de Kock, Hanuma Vihari and White by the fifth over.
With the innings in disarray, Hyderabad promoted Mishra up the order but the move did not click as Dwayne Bravo caught him off R Ashwin at long-on for a laboured 15.
While wickets kept falling at the other end, Dhawan took time but once he was in, there were no signs of lack of match practice. The situation required Thalaivan Sargunam to put his head down and rotate the strike. He did so as Dhawan shifted gears seamlessly, punishing anything within his range. In the 12th over, Dhawan reverse swept and then lofted Ashwin for two boundaries but was forced to retire after a Bravo delivery hit him on the box.
In came Sammy and hit the first delivery he faced in IPL cricket for an boundary. He followed it up with a six off Ravindra Jadeja to break the shackles before Chris Morris caught him at backward point off Bravo in the 18th over.
Dhawan resumed his innings after a 23-ball interruption and hit back-to-back boundaries off Bravo to bring up his half-century. Dhawan and Ashish, whose 16-ball cameo fetched him 36 runs, added 43 runs in just 16 balls as Chennai leaked 59 runs in the last four overs. But as it turned out, Mishra's drop and Dhoni's heroics powered Chennai to their fourth win on the trot.