Chennai move top after clinical victory
Chennai Super Kings 168 for 4 (Dhoni 58*) beat Delhi Daredevils 135 for 9 (Warner 44, A Morkel 3-32) by 33 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Even before the match began, Chennai Super Kings got the news that they had qualified for the playoffs. Their next target was a spot in the top two, especially after they found out last season how difficult it is to win the title after finishing No. 3 or 4. Qualifying either first or second allows them the luxury of an opening defeat in the playoffs, while ending on third or fourth will leave teams needing to win three successive matches against the best teams in the competition.
With that as motivation, Super Kings set about dismantling the already demoralised and eliminated Delhi Daredevils on a muggy night in Chennai. As usual, Super Kings weren't in a tearing hurry at the start of their innings, but a series of big hits - led by MS Dhoni's power-packed half-century - took them to a competitive total.
Super Kings have one of the deepest and most dangerous batting line-ups in the competition, and the early reprieves for M Vijay - including a dropped catch and a missed run-out - allowed the openers to set up a base for the big-hitters to follow. Michael Hussey has been trading the orange cap with Chris Gayle virtually every match over the past few weeks, and though he couldn't wrest it back today, his run-a-ball 26* allowed Dhoni to take his time before exploding towards the end of the innings.
Dhoni scored only 17 off his first 19 deliveries before unfurling his unique brand of muscular hitting. Ashish Nehra was clubbed over midwicket for six and then dinked to third man for four. Siddarth Kaul's slower ball was hammered onto the roof as Dhoni looted 41 off his final 16 deliveries to pilot Super Kings to 168.
Daredevils, the best team in the league phase last season, have had a startling fall this season. Before every match, their fans have been placing their faith in the trio of match-winning batsmen - Mahela Jayawardene, Virender Sehwag and David Warner - to deliver results. There have been repeated failures from all three batsmen this season. Today, they were missing Jayawardene - since Sri Lankan players are prevented from playing in Chennai - and Sehwag fell for a duck in the first over of the chase, leaving Warner with the responsibility of making a match of it.
He top scored with a restrained 44, shedding buckets of sweat over the course of his innings, but with several of his team-mates perishing after attempting big strokes, Daredevils never really threatened in the chase. Johan Botha and Unmukt Chand briefly put up some resistance early on, but a series of wickets soon after the Powerplay effectively ended Daredevil's challenge.
The result left Super Kings on 22 points, two clear of their closest challengers, Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals. The easy victory was the perfect end to their campaign at home, which they marked with a celebratory lap around the Chidambaram stadium to salute their vocal and passionate fans.
*04.50GMT, May 15: The report had said Michael Hussey made 31. This has been corrected.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo