Super Kings flex batting muscle once again
Chennai Super Kings 181 for 2 (Smith 79, Raina 47*) beat Delhi Daredevils 178 for 5 (Karthik 51) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
There had been a light, on-off drizzle right through the match, and it grew in intensity over the course of the Chennai Super Kings chase. Fifth ball of the 15th over, Suresh Raina aimed a big drive at a full, off-stump ball from Jaydev Unadkat and edged it past the wicketkeeper for four. Raina pumped his fist.
Super Kings were 127 for 1. They still needed 52 from 31 balls, but they had edged ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis par score. It would seesaw this way and that over the next few overs as the rain fell and the insects swarmed in the haloes around the floodlight towers. Super Kings were ahead after taking 14 off Wayne Parnell in the 16th over; Delhi Daredevils were back on top after a frugal 17th, bowled by Jaydev Unadkat.
Throughout that time, Super Kings were in control. They had only lost one wicket, and it soon became apparent the umpires would not take the players off the field. They had Raina at the crease; they had Dwayne Smith, who had already passed 50; they had MS Dhoni waiting to come in. In the end, they simply had too much batting firepower, even if they did suffer a small hiccup.
Super Kings seemed to have it wrapped up after they took 17 off the 18th over, bowled by Mohammed Shami. Bowling with both third man and fine leg in the circle, he sent down three poor deliveries: a short, wide ball that Smith was only too happy to slash behind square for four, followed by two long-hops that Smith pulled for six and four.
But it only took one wicket - Smith holing out in the penultimate over after a powerful 79 off 51 - for panic to set in, albeit momentarily, and show Daredevils what may have been had they possessed a more penetrative bowling attack. Despite conceding a boundary off the first ball, Wayne Parnell only gave up five from that over.
It left Super Kings needing 11 off the final over. Unadkat had the ball for Daredevils; Super Kings had Raina and Dhoni. It was an unequal contest in terms of Twenty20 pedigree and experience, and all it took was one ball in Dhoni's slot - the second of the over - for it to disappear over the long-on boundary and the equation to come down to four from four. There could only be one result from there.
At the toss, Dhoni had sent Daredevils in, contending that there was some moisture in the pitch and it would get better for batting as the game progressed. The first couple of overs of the Daredevils innings seemed to suggest he was right. Ben Hilfenhaus moved it around a bit, and Ishwar Pandey beat M Vijay three balls in succession in a maiden full of gorgeous outswingers.
But Quinton de Kock kept Daredevils chugging along, and he seemed to be able to hit cleanly through or across the line. This was rapidly becoming a good pitch to bat on. Delhi just seemed to have gotten past the difficult phase when they lost de Kock - to a needless run-out - and Kevin Pietersen, who played down the wrong line of what looked a straight ball from Mohit Sharma.
Vijay and Dinesh Karthik got out of rebuilding mode fairly quickly after that. Karthik played some stunning shots, including a paddled six off a Hilfenhaus full-toss, in a 36-ball 51 that provided Daredevils the perfect platform to launch off from. When Karthik was out, Delhi were 108 for 3 with seven overs remaining.
At that point, JP Duminy was expected to walk in. Or Kedar Jadhav, who had looked in sparkling form down the order in their previous games. Instead, it was Laxmi Shukla, who hadn't faced a single ball in the tournament. Starting with Karthik's dismissal, Daredevils lost three wickets in nine balls, just when they should have been flooring the pedal.
With Daredevils needing to rebuild once more, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bowled four overs for 26 runs. Having got their eye in, Duminy and Jadhav took 44 from the last three - and were particularly severe on Mohit Sharma, who went for 35 in his last two - to push Daredevils to 178. No one knew at that point if it was a defendable total. Daredevils knew they would have to bowl to a fearsome batting line-up; they didn't know they would be doing so with a wet ball.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo