Chennai hold nerve in tight game
Chennai Super Kings 164 for 5 (du Plessis 58, Badrinath 57, Samuels 3-39) beat Pune Warriors 151 for 7 (Mathews 27, Kulasekara 2-10) by 13 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Chennai Super Kings raised their game in front of their home supporters to even the score with Pune Warriors, to whom they had lost five days ago. Warriors needed 21 off the last over, achievable by this tournament's standards, but couldn't finish the job. The Warriors had their moments with the bat but couldn't sustain their partnerships, thanks to some sharp catching and miserly death bowling by the hosts.
On a pitch with variable bounce, and the sapping humidity to deal with, it was a commendable effort by Super Kings' Faf du Plessis and S Badrinath to stage the first century opening stand of the season, 116. The surface was slow, and as a result, the openers used their feet against the seamers to get to the pitch of the ball.
Du Plessis was dropped early in his innings - albeit a tough chance - but he continued to look positive, lofting Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the second tier over long-on and then chipping down the track in a 14-run over, the costliest in the first half of the innings. He had another let-off on 40, when he went down the track to Marlon Samuels and was beaten by the low bounce, only for the wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa to fluff a stumping. Luck was on his side again the following over, when on 51, he attempted a quick single to cover, turned back and dived at the crease. The third umpire studied several replays but gave du Plessis the benefit of the doubt as he wasn't convinced that the bail was completely off the groove before he made his ground.
Badrinath vindicated the decision to replace the out-of-form M Vijay at the top by getting a fifty of his own. He was circumspect against the spinners, and didn't always find the right timing, especially with the slog. But three consecutive boundaries off Bhuvneshwar fast-tracked him to his half-century.
The Warriors then clawed back by getting rid of the pair in the next over. Both fell in similar manner, holing out to Angelo Mathews trying to slog. It wasn't the worst thing to happen for Super Kings as MS Dhoni helped his team bash 39 off the last three overs, which included a helicopter-shot for four which nearly cleaned out the bowler and umpire, and a six which cleared the roof.
The Warriors were halted in their chase by some terrific catching by Super Kings, starting with Robin Uthappa's early departure. He spliced it to mid-off where R Ashwin timed his dive and plucked it inches from the ground. Jesse Ryder pulled Nuwan Kulasekara to deep midwicket where Dwayne Bravo followed up his diving catch with a dance. A couple of overs later, Badrinath had to cover a lot of ground to catch a skier to send back Manish Pandey.
Prior to Pandey's fall, Sourav Ganguly had just knocked 18 off a Doug Bollinger over which featured three pleasing boundaries to the on side. However, the spinners applied the stranglehold in the next five overs, as the run-rate dropped from 8.83 to 6.50. Marlon Samuels broke the rut with two boundaries off Shadab Jakati and a top-edged six off Bravo, but the slower pace of Ashwin led him to spoon a catch to short cover. Warriors needed 68 off 40 when he departed, but they were leaving the rest to their last recognised pair.
Steven Smith and Mathews failed to bisect the gaps in the field, as the Warriors managed just two boundaries in the last eight overs. Super Kings threw themselves around in the field, and the bowlers, importantly, didn't dish out full tosses to give the batsmen any chance. Bollinger conceded just four and took a wicket in the penultimate over, and Bravo's slower balls in particular made the task tougher for Super Kings.
Though the century stand set them up to a competitive 164, Dhoni's final blaze made the difference in a evenly fought contest.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo