Chennai pip Warriors, both make semi-finals
Chennai Super Kings 136 for 6 (Hussey 50, Vijay 35, Kreusch 3-19) beat Warriors 126 for 8 (Jacobs 32, Ashwin 3-24)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It's not often that both contestants of a sporting encounter celebrate at the end of a match. That strange sight was on offer in Port Elizabeth after Chennai Super Kings prevailed over Warriors in a tense league match, paving the way for both teams to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League Twenty20 at the expense of Victoria.
Chennai's chances seemed to have evaporated when they stumbled to 136 after choosing to bat in a must-win match, but on a spin-friendly track their strategy of packing the team with slow bowlers paid off as they tenaciously defended that total to set up an all-IPL semi-final against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Durban.
Briefly, midway through the chase, it looked as though an IPL team would break the hearts of the home crowd for the second day in a row but it was the Chennai fans who faced some panicky moments when Justin Kreusch and Mark Boucher revived the Warriors with a 44-run fourth-wicket stand.
Two Boucher sixes off Shadab Jakati left Warriors needing a gettable 32 off three overs with seven wickets remaining and two set batsmen at the crease. Chennai's edginess was shown by Muttiah Muralitharan's tirade at S Badrinath after a run-out chance was muffled following some kamikaze running between the wickets in the 16th over.
R Ashwin, battered in the Super Over against Victoria, then returned to virtually ensure David Hussey's side will be returning home early. His carrom ball worked to perfection in the 18th over, foxing both Kreusch and Boucher, to swing the game Chennai's way, though a four in between raised the biggest cheer of the day as it confirmed Warriors' qualification - they needed 109 to seal a place in the final four. Chennai's key bowlers, Doug Bollinger and Murali, then held their nerve against Warriors' non-specialist batsmen to preserve their team's 100% record of progressing from the league phase of every tournament they have played in so far.
Victoria would never have felt more confident of making the semi-finals than when Warriors captain Davy Jacobs was batting in his usual thrill-a-minute style to power the chase of a seemingly inadequate target early on. Jacobs survived in the second over when the ball rolled off his bat onto the stumps and Warriors confidently progressed to 38 for 1 in the Powerplays, but Chennai clawed back after that.
Shadab Jakati and Murali choked the runs, before Jacobs fell to a well-judged overhead catch from Michael Hussey at deep midwicket. Three overs later, Suresh Raina's magic arm earned a wicket with his third delivery to further slow down the home team. In seven overs after the Powerplays, Warriors made only 28 and lost two major wickets, pushing the asking rate to double digits. The game then tilted the Warriors' way before Ashwin's intervention proved decisive.
Chennai's bowlers saved the blushes of a highly rated batting unit, which struggled against a disciplined home side. Warriors have five bowlers with international experience in their line-up but it was the sixth, medium-pacer Kreusch, who made the biggest impact. His no-frills wicket-to-wicket bowling fetched him three wickets and ruined the platform Chennai's openers, Hussey and M Vijay, had constructed.
The other impressive Warriors bowler was Johan Botha, one of the tournament's most economical, who again handcuffed the opposition and dismissed Hussey in the 14th over, one ball after he reached his half-century, to change the course of the innings. From what was a potentially threatening 94 for 2, Chennai could only scrape 20 runs in the next five overs, when they should have been launching an all-out attack.
Chennai's openers had made a rock-solid start, setting up their side for what should have been a far more challenging target. Vijay was the dominant partner in a 63-run stand. Hussey was more circumspect early on, knocking the singles around - his first stroke of aggression as in the fifth over, charging down and lofting Lonwabo Tsotsobe towards long-on. A powerful reverse-sweep for four followed off Nicky Boje, before he started peppering his favourite midwicket region. There were only two dot balls in his final 21 deliveries.
His dismissal, however, sandwiching those of Raina and S Badrinath to Kreusch, derailed Chennai. They got going again only in the 19th over, when MS Dhoni clubbed 17 runs off Tsotsobe, including a giant six over midwicket. In a low-scoring encounter, 136 proved enough.
The result was a hard pill to swallow for Victoria, who are eliminated despite losing only one match in the tournament.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo