Suresh Raina’s brilliant all-round performance and a Mahendra Singh Dhoni blitzkrieg gave Chennai Super Kings a 12-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in Group B match of the Champions League T20 here on Thursday.
Raina scored 84 off 57 balls and was the game-changer on the field as well, first running out Parthiv Patel (38) and then removing the dangerous J P Duminy (0).
Dhoni was in tremendous form as he smashed 63 off just 19 balls (one four and eight sixes), propelling his team to 202 for four. Super Kings then weathered some furious hitting from Sunrisers’ batsmen, including Patel, Shikhar Dhawan and Darren Sammy, before restricting the opposition to 190 for seven.
The Sunrisers looked well on their way to chasing down the daunting total with openers Patel and Dhawan (48) making merry.
It all changed with the introduction of Raina. The off-spinner ran out Patel and with Duminy too falling in the same over, Chennai was back in the game. Ravichandran Ashwin then removed the Sunrisers captain Dhawan to put Chennai in the driving seat.
Sammy, though, refused to give up and smashed 50 off 25 balls to keep Sunrisers hopes alive. But Jason Holder quashed all the Hyderabad hopes in the 18th over, first removing Karan Sharma (11) and then uprooting Sammy’s leg stump.
However, with three dropped catches, the Super Kings fielding left a lot to be desired. Had they not posted such a huge target, these chances could have easily cost them the match.
Earlier, Chennai got off to a horrendous start, losing Murali Vijay in the second ball of the match. Raina and Michael Hussey (23) stabilised things for a while before the Australian fell to the off-spin of Duminy.
Hussey had looked good in his brief innings hitting two fours and a six but Duminy’s delivery gripped and spun just the right amount to get the slightest of edges.
Raina then took control of the match and counter-attacked brilliantly. He took on the Hyderabad bowlers with great success constantly managing to clear the in-field. Subramaniam Badrinath (13) played the perfect sheet anchor role handing the strike to his more aggressive partner. As Badrinath fell and Dhoni walked out, his home crowd went into a frenzy.
Dhoni sent the decibel level rising almost immediately as he lofted Duminy out of the boundary off only his second ball.
Sri Lankan Thisara Perera bore the brunt of Dhoni’s rampage as he was hit for five sixes in the 18th over, giving away 34 runs in it. Raina and Dhoni together scored 60 runs off 25 balls before Perera caught the left-hander brilliantly at the long-on boundary. After scoring 11 runs off his first seven balls, Dhoni went on to score 52 runs off the next 12. His fifty in 16 balls was the fastest half-century in CLT20.
Chennai brought about their fourth fifty in just 14 balls, due to Dhoni and Raina’s dominance. In the end, all those runs were required to halt a determined Sunrisers.