Chennai: Chennai Super Kings dug deep into their reserves to snatch a deserved 25-run win against Pune Warriors to boost their campaign in the Indian Premier League at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here Monday.
In a low-scoring game, the Super Kings, asked to bat first, stuttered to 142 for six with the consistent opener Michael Hussey making a 48-ball 61 and then came up with inspired bowling and fielding to restrict the visitors to 117 for nine with skipper Yuvraj Singh (34) playing a lone hand for the vanquished.
It was Super Kings’ third win in six matches and moved them up the league table with six points while the Warriors slid to their third defeat in five outings to remain on four.
The Warriors gave themselves a chance to win as seamers Jerome Taylor (3 for 30) and Alfonso Thomas (2 for 29) struck decisive blows after Hussey and Murali Vijay had put on 64 runs for the first wicket.
For the Super Kings, new ball bowlers Albie Morkel (3 for 29) and Doug Bollinger (2 for 20), besides off-spinner Ravichandran (2 for 19) did a fine turn.
The Chennai innings was a stop-start affair and never really took off despite Vijay (31) and Hussey providing a solid start.
With the ball tending to stop a bit, stroke-making was never an easy task and it was all that the Super Kings openers could do to nudge and push with an occasional big hit to keep the score ticking.
However, a double strike by Thomas in the 10th over that saw Vijay and Suresh Raina depart, put the Warriors on top before the hosts recovered with a 58-run partnership between Dhoni (26) and Hussey.
But the Super Kings were fast running out of overs and the runs came in a trickle. The Super Kings went without a boundary for four overs until Dhoni opened out with a six.
Neither Hussey nor Dhoni could dominate as the Warriors bowlers bowled a tight line and length, backed by some inspired fielding.
It was not long before desperation set in, leading to a flurry of wickets as Dhoni, Hussey and Albie Morkel lost their wickets in an attempt to step up the run rate.
In fact, the last four overs fetched the Super Kings a measly 24 runs, leaving them at least 20 short, but something to bowl at.
The Pune chase was off to a sensational start as wickets fell in a heap. Morkel and Ashwin picked up two apiece in four consecutive overs between them despite taking some punishment to reduce the visitors to 40 for four in the sixth over.
There was a flicker of recovery by Pune with Yuvraj Singh and Mithun Manhas adding 38 runs in about seven overs, but could never collar the bowling.
The Super Kings fielders displayed a refreshing change as they displayed a lot of commitment while throwing themselves about to save precious runs, so much so that the Warriors batsmen found the boundary line just twice in 10 overs.
Dhoni then came up with another master move, bringing on Bollinger for just one over and the left-arm seamer obliged by dismissing Manhas, caught behind.
Thereafter, the Warriors’ chase lost whatever little momentum they had and the Super Kings delivered the death blow when Shadab Jakati dived to catch Yuvraj off Morkel, bowling the 19th over, to leave the Super Kings winners by a country mile.