Delhi Capitals 185 for 5 (Dhawan 101*, Stoinis 24, Chahar 2-18) beat Chennai Super Kings 179 for 4 (du Plessis 58, Rayudu 45*, Nortje 2-44) by five wickets
Shikhar Dhawan - reprieved on 25, 27, 50, 79 - punished a sloppy Chennai Super Kings and powered a challenging chase of 180 on a sluggish Sharjah track, finishing unbeaten on 101 off 58 balls, his first T20 hundred. The victory, secured with one ball to spare, moved the Delhi Capitals back to the top of the points table.
It was still anybody's game at the start of the last over. The Capitals needed 17 off it. Sam Curran had just dismissed Alex Carey and executed his wide yorkers to give up a mere four runs off the penultimate over. With Dwayne Bravo, the Super Kings' designated death bowler, off the field because he "wasn't fit", MS Dhoni turned to Ravindra Jadeja.
Jadeja could've had Dhawan earlier in the evening, with his third ball, had Deepak Chahar not misjudged a catch in the outfield. Dhawan then whacked him for back-to-back fours and out of the attack. Jadeja vs Dhawan round 2 began with an off-side wide and a bottom edge for a single.
A nerveless Axar Patel, facing his second ball of the night, then clattered 6, 6, 2, 6 to cap a thrilling finish and hand the Super Kings their sixth defeat in nine matches.
CSK start slow, then explode
Tushar Deshpande struck with his third ball, a skiddy bouncer, getting rid of pinch-hitting opener Sam Curran for a duck. Eleven of the first 12 deliveries the Capitals had bowled were all dots - and it included the first maiden in Sharjah, bowled by Kagiso Rabada.
But then Faf du Plessis darted around his crease, manufacturing his own lengths and angles to inject some urgency into the innings. He jumped across off and scooped his South Africa team-mate Anrich Nortje for six before backing away outside leg and creaming his slower variation, clocked at 128kph, through the covers.
Du Plessis chanced his arm against Kagiso Rabada, too, pulling him with great power to the midwicket fence. At the other end, Watson took on R Ashwin's carrom balls and got a move on for himself with a pair of fours. While du Plessis kicked on to a half-century, Nortje blasted out Watson for 36 off 28 balls.
Soon after du Plessis lost steam and Rabada had him holing out for 58, becoming the fastest to 50 IPL wickets. When MS Dhoni stepped out and nicked Nortje behind for 3, the Super Kings were 129 for 4 in the 17th over. However, a scorching 50-run partnership off 21 balls from Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja set the Capitals 180.
While Rayudu kept advancing down the track and swiping at balls, Jadeja stood deep in the crease, latching onto any errors in length. Both Rabada and Nortje missed their yorkers as Jadeja clouted three sixes over long-on.
Dhawan shows the way
Deepak Chahar found swing in the early exchanges like he often does. He nipped out Prithvi Shaw for the fifth time in six innings. He also got Ajinkya Rahane for the fourth time in four innings. Dhawan was largely cautious against him, but he tore into both Curran and Shardul Thakur.
Dhoni bowled Chahar out by the eighth over and the Capitals were 60 for 2. If Dhoni was planning to control the defence with his spinners and Bravo, then Dhawan foiled all his plans. He shimmied out to his first ball against legspinner Karn Sharma and spanked it over his head for four. He picked the next ball, a googly, and cut it firmly for four more.
With Dhawan taking all the risks, Shreyas Iyer sat back and simply tried to turn the strike over. However, when he looked to manufacture a boundary, he was done in by Bravo's lack of pace and picked out long-on.
Marcus Stoinis then produced a cameo of 24 off 14 balls before Thakur bounced him out in the 16th over. Once Carey holed out in the 19th over, the pressure mounted on Dhawan. However, he didn't panic, and took the chase deep. And, after having not conceded a six in his four-over spell earlier, it was Patel who closed out the game by smoking Jadeja for three sixes.