Durban b>Durban: Chennai Super Kings stamped their authority on the Champions League at the St. George's Park on Saturday when they romped home by 57 runs against the champions from New Zealand, Central Stags, thanks to S Badrinath's 52 and the Chennai bowlers who bundled out Stags for just 94.
The day began on a sorry note for CSK after MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to take first strike. Mathew Hayden began his second Champions League stint with a golden duck against the Central Stags when his first-ball aggressive intent landed straight into the hands of deep square leg.
Things got worse when Hayden's wicket in the first over was followed by Suresh Raina's in the second, leaving Chennai reeling at 5/2.
A partnership of sorts ensued between Murali Vijay and S Badrinath but could go only as far as 35 runs, when a snorter took an edge off Vijay's bat straight into the slip fielder's hands.
Chennai innings, though, found an unlikely hero in Anirudh Srikkanth who took off like a man on mission and even rubbed off his aggressive intent onto Badrinath.
Boundaries started flowing and soon transformed into sixes and the Chennai innings moved from stable to a healthy state. A 50-run partnership turned into 73 but that's when Srikkanth's 29-ball cameo of 42 runs came to a standstill, with an attempted slash over point taking his bat's edge en route to the wicketkeeper.
In came big-hitting local sensation Albie Morkel, but he could only partially succeed in doing what's always expected off him: hit it hard and long. Credit for that must be given to the Stag's bowlers who held their nerves and kept varying their pace.
The last two overs didn't bring the desired runs but just enough to help Badrinath reach 52. And with Albie Morkel's small cameo of 26 off 15 balls, CSK notched up a challenging 151 runs.
Now it was up to the Murali-led CSK spinners and Bollinger to bowl their heart out and defend a total that Stags must have felt was gettable.
Dhoni's comrades beganDhoni's comrades began in the best possible manner by keeping a tight leash on the proceedings, subsequently resulting in wickets.
While Morkel and Balaji took care of Ingram (6) and Worker (4) respectively, Murali and Ashwin's introduction struck Stags like lightning.
The highest Test wicket-taker took care of Mathew Sinclair (10) and Noema Barnett (0) in his first over while Ashwin foxed Jamie How (13).
That left Stags reeling at 44/6, which was followed by a 38-run face-saving partnership but once that was over, the remaining batsmen fell like ninepins and the Stags got bowled out for a paltry 94, giving CSK a comfortable 57-run victory.
With this MS Dhoni - who was not at his 100 per cent due to a mild flu - has made a strong statement that his team means nothing but business in the Champions League.