Chennai leave it late, but win again
Chennai Super Kings 146 for 5 (Smith 66, McCullum 40) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad (Finch 44, Mohit 2-27) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It seemed at the halfway point that Chennai Super Kings would face a challenging chase. Two big overs at the death had propelled Sunrisers Hyderabad to 145 on a slow Sharjah pitch, which had seemed difficult to play big shots on. Sunrisers had gone into the match with five specialist bowlers, each different from the other, all of them capable of exploiting the conditions.
But as early as the first over of Super Kings' innings, delivered by Dale Steyn, something seemed to have changed. Dwayne Smith only took six runs off it, but he middled every ball, despite Steyn delivering most of them with a scrambled seam.
After a close shave in the next over, off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, when the ball narrowly missed the top of middle stump after hitting his inside edge, Smith continued timing the ball beautifully, raced away to a 46-ball 66, and put on 85 for the first wicket with Brendon McCullum, who was hitting it just as crisply. Dew had come into play, and the ball was coming nicely on to the bat.
When Super Kings lost Suresh Raina, they had eight wickets in hand and 36 balls in which to get 32 runs against a Sunrisers attack that was reaching for the towel stuck in the umpire's waistband with increasing frequency. The chase seemed well in control.
Just then, when everything was stacked against them, Sunrisers came back into the game. Suresh Raina mistimed a big hit off Ishant Sharma, turning a poor over into a reasonable one. Bhuvneshwar Kumar took two wickets in one over, including a lucky break when Smith hit a full-toss straight to long-off. Steyn bowled a superb last over, giving away just four, and Bhuvneshwar followed it up by giving away just five in the next one.
Ishant Sharma, who had gone for 33 in his first three overs, got his leg-cutter to work all of a sudden, bowling Ravindra Jadeja off his pads and beating Mithun Manhas twice in two balls. Four runs off that over left Super Kings needing six off the last over.
Sunrisers hadn't used anyone apart from their five specialist bowlers, and they stuck with that plan, handing Amit Mishra the task of bowling the last over. Only two runs came off the first two balls, but the dew, the pressure of defending four off four balls, and the fact that MS Dhoni was on strike came together for a high full-toss to slip out of Mishra's fingers. Dhoni swatted it away to the midwicket boundary, and a result that had seemed a formality five overs earlier had now belatedly come to pass.
Having chosen to bat, Sunrisers never recovered after losing two wickets inside the first three overs. Shikhar Dhawan pulled Ben Hilfenhaus straight to the midwicket fielder, and David Warner fell victim to a poor umpiring decision two balls later.
The ball, from Ben Hilfenhaus, was short, pitched well outside leg stump, and hit Warner high on the pad with the batsman on the hop. Umpire Vineet Kulkarni gave it out, and Super Kings had sent back two-thirds of Sunrisers' heavy artillery. The third member of that trio, Aaron Finch, was now forced into circumspection.
Super Kings' bowlers, for their part, did everything in their power to make life difficult for the batsmen. Their three seamers, Mohit Sharma in particular, made clever use of the slower ball, and the best strategy against R Ashwin's around-the-wicket line, at times, seemed to be to let the ball go and hope for wides. No one, barring Ravindra Jadeja on a couple of occasions, gave the batsmen any width.
Finch and KL Rahul put on 52 at just over a run a ball, and Venugopal Rao made 13 off 15 before he was out off the last ball of the 15th over. Sunrisers were 98 for 4, and their hopes of getting to a competitive total rested on Finch and Darren Sammy. Finch fell in the 18th over, foxed by one of Mohit's back-of-the-hand offerings, but Sammy and Karn Sharma tonked 36 off the last 16 balls to propel the score to 145. It shouldn't have been, considering how much of an effect the dew was to have, and it wasn't in the end, but they almost made it look like a big enough total.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo