(cricinfo.com) An ebullient finish from MS Dhoni that built on Suresh Raina’s consummate half-century set up a 12-run victory for Chennai Super Kings over Sunrisers Hyderabad in Ranchi. Dhoni walloped eight sixes and a four, in a 19-ball maraud that brought him 63 not out, after Raina had hit 84 from 57. Dhoni’s bore down most heavily on Thisara Perera, from whose third over was pillaged for a tournament-high 34 runs, with only two of those coming from wides. Sunrisers threatened to chase down Super Kings’ 202 for 4 when their openers hit 86 from the first 9 overs, but they lost their way soon after, and were never able to get themselves ahead of the required run rate.
Dhoni’s intent was clear, almost as soon as he arrived at the crease, when he blasted the second ball he faced – a flighted offbreak from JP Duminy – back over the bowler’s head for six. He then cooled his heels for the next two overs, but with another straight six off a Perera half-volley in the 18th over, he engaged annihilation mode.
Perera continued to miss his length, and Dhoni mauled his four last deliveries with rare savagery. The second six was whipped off the pads over fine leg; the third, carved inside-out square on the off side; the fourth launched 101 metres into the stand behind; and the fifth – a desperate short, wide ball from a bowler bereft of ideas – upper-cut over third man. Predictably, Perera’s bowling duties ceased thereafter, with him having collected by far the worst figures for three-overs, in the tournament’s history. His economy rate was a scarcely believable 20.
Dhoni was less militant thereafter, but that only meant he scored 20 from his last six deliveries. A square drive off Steyn brought his only four of the innings, before propelling two consecutive Darren Sammy deliveries into the night. His fifty, completed in the final over, came off 16 balls, and was comfortably the quickest of its kind in Champions League cricket, beating Kieron Pollard’s fifty off 18.
Though Dhoni provided the late surge, Raina’s fine hand had lent Super Kings’ innings its substance. He was required in the first over after Murali Vijay had edged a Dale Steyn outswinger to slip, and though Steyn continued to move the ball appreciably, Raina stroked two boundaries to finish the over.
He then set about consolidating cleverly, often only venturing aggression when the ball deserved punishment, or the run rate threatened to stagnate. The middle overs yielded his most lucrative patch – a seven-ball burst in which he made 23 – and effectively set his side on course for a mammoth total. Having watched Dhoni go postal from the other end, Raina attempted a big hit of his own off Steyn in the penultimate over, but was caught on the long on boundary as a third Twenty20 hundred beckoned.
Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel’s positivity at the top of the order promised a tight finish, in Sunrisers’ response, and they will perhaps feel they ought to have made more of the foundation provided. Both men took educated chances inside the Powerplay, often manufacturing boundaries by moving across or back in the crease to set the chase off at close to its required rate.
A hare-brained run out in the 10th over though, began the slide that effectively scuttled Sunrisers’ chances. Patel was still mid-pitch when Raina hit the stumps, to capitalise on the batsmen’s miscommunication, and inside two overs Dhawan and JP Duminy had also been dismissed.
Perera could not redeem himself with the bat, and though Sammy batted valiantly, striking a 25-ball 50, most of it after he made himself lame by clobbering a yorker onto his foot, he was always facing steep odds to pull off the heist.