Spirited Lions hunt down Super Kings
Lions 159 for 4 (Bodi 64, Symes 39*, McKenzie 33) beat Chennai Super Kings 158 for 6 (Dhoni 34, Badrinath 27*, Phangiso 2-17) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The asking rate for Lions hit 10 an aver at the end of the seventh over, they had no momentum and they looked rather like cubs in the headlights, but over the next 13 overs they kept up with the rate without a hint of panic.
Gulam Bodi, who seemed to possess just one shot - the pick-up over midwicket - now began to drive through extra cover to end with 64 off 46. Neil McKenzie stayed cool as he had done in chasing a similar total against Mumbai Indians, but needed Jean Symes' equally cool 39 off 23 finish the chase with three balls to spare.
While Lions were tigerish in the field to keep sending back well-set Chennai Super Kings batsmen before they could cause irreparable damage, their opponents bowled two crucial no-balls and were guilty of bowling length balls during the tense chase. The first no-ball arrived just after Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus had bowled the first six overs for just 24 for 2. Bodi had been struggling for 15 off 23 just before the over with the no-ball began.
Bodi first played his release shot - the six over the leg side - and Albie Morkel responded by overstepping. The six off the free hit marked a huge change in the momentum. From 33 in eight overs, Lions went to 96 in 13. Morkel then pulled things back for Super Kings, inducing an edge from Bodi, but it turned out that enough damage had been done by then.
McKenzie, who was happy watching Bodi's hitting until then, got a little more busy, but Super Kings seemed to have put it past Lions when Suresh Raina dismissed McKenzie with a superb running catch from long-on. In that same over, though, Ashwin bowled a no-ball. The consequent free hit went for four, and Chris Morris sent him off with a huge slogged six. Ashwin: four overs for 42.
The asking rate, once again, was 10 for the last three overs. And on quick outfields and smallish grounds of South Africa, you can't defend that by bowling length. Eleven of the next 15 balls were pitched between the yorker and bounce length. Three others were low full tosses. That death bowling was just not good enough, and Symes and Morris sailed home with a partnership of 44 in 3.1 overs.
Unlike Lions, almost every Super Kings batsman left the job unfinished. Six of their batsmen crossed 20, but only MS Dhoni went past 30. Dhoni finally came in to bat at No. 4, giving himself enough time to bat like a proper batsman, and it was his partnership with S Badrinath, worth 50 off 26, that took them away from what threatened to be a middling total.
Aaron Phangiso continued to star in the field: he removed the free-flowing Faf du Plessis with a superb catch, then took the wickets of the set M Vijay and Ravindra Jadeja, and conceded just 17 in four overs. Du Plessis' wicket was the most crucial: he was in the same dream form that had knocked Dhoni's team out of the World Twenty20, but his falling for 25 off 20 set a trend Super Kings couldn't buck until Dhoni and Badrinath began their partnership. That, though, was to prove inadequate.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo