A superb bowling performance by left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati gave Chennai Super Kings their third win of the tournament and with it some momentum. Chennai's total of 163 - built around a 66-run partnership between Suresh Raina and S Badrinath - seemed too little after they whimpered to a finish, but led by Jakati and Muttiah Muralitharan they hit back at the clutch, disturbing a threatening stand and keeping Delhi to 145 as the IPL bandwagon landed in Johannesburg.
Delhi were rattled early in their chase by Sudeep Tyagi, who was again given the new ball. His first wicket owed more to a corker of a catch by Raina at point to cut off Gautam Gambhir, but the second was a peach. AB de Villiers was cleaned up first ball by an awayswinger. In his first over, Jakati also arrived with a bang. Tillakaratne Dilshan, Delhi's batting hero in the last couple games, was bowled by a ripper that pitched on middle and took off stump.
Till the 16th over it was almost in the bag for Delhi, thanks to a super stand between the IPL debutant David Warner and Dinesh Karthik. Displaying plenty of urgency with his shots and running between the wickets, Warner farmed the strike and collected five fours and a six, all of which were controlled attempts. Though not at his most devastative, he was firm when he pulled to the on side and impressed with how he took on responsibility to see Delhi through early difficulty.
Karthik's was a smart innings, shot by shot relieving the pressure on Warner. He meshed caution with aggression but most importantly, found the boundaries whenever he tried. Jacob Oram was taken for a six each by Warner and Karthik when he came on to bowl the 13th over. Then Murali returned and Karthik slammed consecutive boundaries through cover, one with a two-step and the other rocking onto the back foot. The cheeky followed, as Karthik paddle-scooped L Balaji to fine leg. Murali erred in length and Karthik flat-batted four more.
Then Jakati returned and pulled the carpet from beneath their feet, with a bit of help from Murali. Karthik began by smashing a boundary but Warner, who raised his fifty from 38 balls, was stumped attempting to swing Jakati away. Mithun Manhas came and went, bowled trying to slog Murali, and Karthik found himself in the driver's seat. Karthik's fifty came up off 30 balls but next ball, with 32 needed from 17, he top-edged Jakati to the deep. Jakati completed a superb spell by bowling Pradeep Sangwan and victory was soon achieved. Jakati and Murali, in their eight overs, took five wickets. This again proved that anything in excess of 150 was not easy to chase.
Chennai's innings ran a similar course after Gambhir, captaining in place of an injured Virender Sehwag, put them in. They lost two early wickets, were lifted by a strong stand, and then collapsed in the last few overs. M Vijay replaced an out-of-sorts Parthiv Patel as opener but himself looked a Twenty20 misfit before Ashish Nehra tested him with a short ball and drew a top edge. Matthew Hayden, knocked to his feet when he took a ball from Sangwan flush on the sternum, kept swinging away but fell to the same bowler when he lofted to long-on.
With the ball still new and the field in, Raina boldly went over the top, getting off the mark with a front-foot six. When the field spread and spin came on, he chipped and tucked the ball smartly into the gaps but trying to up the tempo was taken right on the boundary line by Tillakaratne Dilshan. Badrinath had taken his time, scoring his first seven runs off 13 balls, but dumped the first ball after the tactical break for six off Dilshan. In the same over he took Dilshan for four down the ground, before hooking, pulling and cutting Sangwan to and over the boundary in the next over. Another solid slap past point followed but, like Raina, Badrinath tried to take it up a level and was yorked by an alert Rajat Bhatia.
With Albie Morkel and MS Dhoni batting and Oram to come, a total of 180 seemed a distinct possibility but the quick bowlers struck as Gambhir made a good call. With Bhatia's slow medium stuff keeping a check on runs, Gambhir called back Nehra for the 16th over. Nehra immediately struck with the short ball, taking a return catch from Morkel. Nehra was impressive all evening, varying his pace and banging it in on a testing length.
Then Dirk Nannes was ushered right back for the next over and took out Oram, who fell pulling. Nannes then found himself on a hat-trick when Dhoni top-edged a quick delivery to cover. The hat-trick was averted, only for Nehra to take his third with a fuller ball.
In the end, that total of 163 proved more than enough for Chennai to get some lift. Today the top two teams suffered defeats and the top seven are now separated by just two points, proving what a tight contest this IPL is.