After Chennai Super Kings lost a last-ball thriller to Mumbai Indians earlier in the tournament, Ben Hilfenhaus might have felt that the last three balls he bowled to Dwayne Smith would be the most lasting impression he would leave on IPL 2012. However, in a must-win match for Chennai against Delhi Daredevils, Hilfenhaus trumped that three-ball nightmare with a much happier sequence that saw him get both Virender Sehwag and David Warner to set Chennai on course for a thumping 9-wicket win.
Put in to bat by MS Dhoni, Delhi got off to the worst possible start, Sehwag falling to the fifth ball of the innings, undone by a beauty from Hilfenhaus that uprooted his off-stump. Off the first ball of his next over, Hilfenhaus had Warner caught at mid-off to push Delhi firmly on to the backfoot, exposing the only weak spot in the side - an underwhelming middle-order. Hilfenhaus wasn't done yet and took the wicket of Naman Ojha in his next over, before Albie Morkel joined in to snare Mahela Jayawardena. Delhi's top four had all departed for single-digit scores and at 24 for 4 in the sixth over, they were under the pump.
Y Venugopala Rao was the first batsman to find any measure of comfort while batting and though Yogesh Nagar outscored him, Nagar's unbeaten 43 took up 47 deliveries and didn't help move things along after an already slow start. Delhi ended on a dismal 114, the impressive Hilfenhaus returning figures of 3 for 27.
The only way for Delhi to make a contest of it was to take early wickets, but Chennai's opening pair of Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay ensured that didn't happen. There was no run-rate pressure and both batsmen could take their time to settle in while dispatching the loose balls on offer. The opening stand, worth 75, was broken when Hussey cut Irfan Pathan straight to Jayawardena at point off the first ball of the 11th over, but at that stage, the match as a contest was over. Vijay used the opportunity to regain some form, remaining unbeaten on 48 off 40 balls, Chennai cantering to victory in the 16th over. The win boosted their Net Run Rate and the defending champions returned to the top four after a long sojourn in the bottom half of the table.