Chennai stroll through to semis

(cricinfo) Chennai Super Kings on Saturday sauntered through to the Champions League semi-finals with an effortless eight-wicket win in Ranchi, while scuttling Brisbane Heat’s tournament hopes. A stuttering Heat top order laid a mediocre foundation, before the men in the middle ran aground on Super Kings’ spin.

R Ashwin was almost indecipherable in the middle overs, but Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina contributed fine spells as well; the trio shared four wickets and conceded just 37 runs in 11 overs collectively. Michael Hussey then stroked an unhurried, unbeaten half century, to help run down the target of 138 in 15.5 overs.

Dom Michael had had quite a road to the Champions League in 2013, but could not manage to make a run in his first Twenty20 match, departing in the first over to Mohit Sharma. James Hopes then promised much during his 14-ball 20, but mis-hit Albie Morkel to mid-off to leave his side at 29 for 2 in the fourth over.

It wasn’t until spin arrived after the Powerplay, however, that Heat’s evening truly took a nosedive. Jadeja had had a poor tournament with the ball until last night, and perhaps Heat had planned to dominate him early, but Dan Christian’s attempt to hit Jadeja’s first ball for a straight six, ended with him being caught at long-off for three. Four balls later, Joe Burns edged Jadeja to slip to collect a golden duck.

All this did was set the scene for Ashwin’s last three overs, which cost two runs and in which he claimed the wicket of Chris Lynn who underestimated the turn Ashwin generated from a conventional offbreak, and top-edged to short third man. The remaining 17 deliveries were a canny mix of googlies, offbreaks, carrom balls and more big-spinning leggies.

Heat’s middle order could hardly lay a bat on his deliveries, and soon abandoned any thoughts of hitting him to the fence.

The six overs following the Powerplay cost Heat four wickets for 12 runs, and from 66 for 6, a total below 120 beckoned. Ben Cutting, however, stroked his best Twenty20 innings to elevate his side toward credibility.

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