MS Dhoni starred for the home team with an unbeaten 58 that set up a match-winning total, backed by three wickets to Morne Morkel in Chennai. (BCCI Images)
Chennai: With their place in the IPL play-offs confirmed before the toss in the form of an RCB defeat to Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings celebrated with a 33-win over Delhi Daredevils at home on Tuesday. MS Dhoni resuscitated the innings with a breezy unbeaten 58 and defending 168 Chennai's bowlers struck at regular intervals to keep Delhi to 135 for 9.
An early drop off Murali Vijay on 2 by Kedar Jhadav behind the stumps cost Delhi 29. Vijay helped take 17 off Johan Botha's first over with sweetly-struck shots for four and six, and then he drove Siddarth Kaul down the ground with élan. A direct hit from Ben Rohrer cut off Vijay on 31 and not long after Michael Hussey (26) top-edged a pull off Umesh Yadav to short fine leg.
Suresh Raina failed to get going, excellently held at cover by David Warner for 7 when looking to drive hard at Roelof van der Merwe. Forced to steady the innings, Dhoni and Jadeja put on 57 in good time to allow the bowlers something to bowl at. Jadeja backed himself to play his shots and succeeded in lofting Kaul to long-on and sweeping van der Merwe for boundaries to relieve the tension. Dhoni was given a life on 14 when Kaul spilled a full-blooded return catch at his shins and ensured the tough chance cost Delhi. From 69 for 2, he pushed the score along in typically bullish manner.
Dhoni found the boundaries regularly, with heaved sixes off Irfan Pathan and Ashish Nehra leaving the visitors grimacing. Yadav returned to clean up Jadeja for 24 last ball of the 17th over but Dhoni helped CSK take 29 off the next two overs. Yadav bowled did well to concede just eight from the final over, but a Dhoni had ensured his team had enough on board.
Two wickets to Mohit Sharma inside the Powerplay set Delhi on the back foot and it all came down to the team's most consistent batsmen, Warner, to try and shore up the chase. Virender Sehwag (0) slashed and nicked the second ball of the innings to Dhoni and Unmukt Chand (16) threw away a shart with a silly swipe to square leg. With Albie Morkel marking his return to the side with the wickets of Jadhav, gloving a short ball down the leg side, and Rohrer, flicking to square leg, Delhi's chase had crashed even before it could flourish.
Warner (44) watched wickets come and go and eventually fell trying to swing Morkel for six with the asking rate touching 15. Dwayne Bravo snapped up two wickets in two balls to hold on to the Purple Cap for most wickets, thus maintaining his record of taking at least one scalp in each outing.