Chennai Super Kings 156 for 7 (Rayudu 40, Dhoni 28*, Sams 4-30) beat Mumbai Indians 155 for 7 (Varma 51*, Suryakumar 32, Choudhary 3-19, Bravo 2-36) by three wickets
Butter-fingered Chennai Super Kings dropped at least four catches, including two by their captain Ravindra Jadeja, and MS Dhoni fluffed a stumping chance, but Dhoni produced a vintage display with the bat to hand Mumbai Indians their seventh defeat in as many games this IPL.
With Super Kings needing 16 off the last four balls, Dhoni went 6,4,2,4 and aced his match-up against Jaydev Unadkat once again.
It was Dwaine Pretorius, picked in place of Chris Jordan, who set the scene for Dhoni's trademark finish by clattering 22 off 14 balls, 12 of which were scored off Jasprit Bumrah, who left Unadkat with 16 to defend off the final over.
Unadkat started well by pinning Pretorius in front with an on-pace yorker, but Dwayne Bravo pinched a single next ball to put Dhoni back on strike. From thereon, only one result was possible and that was Dhoni tearing into Unadkat and winning it off the last ball for Super Kings.
Super Kings' left-arm seamer Mukesh Choudhary had played a key role for Super Kings in the early exchanges by dismissing both Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan for ducks. Choudhary then had Dewald Brevis nicking off for 4 and he could've had Tilak Varma for 2 off his next ball to make it four strikes in the powerplay had Bravo clung onto a chest-high catch at slip.
Varma pressed on to make an unbeaten 51 off 43 balls and a late cameo from Unadkat (19 off 9 balls) dragged Mumbai to 155 for 7 on a grippy DY Patil track. It allowed Mumbai to apply pressure on Super Kings at various points during their spirited defence, but it was not enough for them to break their duck.
Choudhary gives CSK new-ball bite
Choudhary's ability to swing the new ball saw him graduate into the main squad from being a net bowler last season. Choudhary, however, might not have even got a game this season had Deepak Chahar been fit. It was Tushar Deshpande who started the season ahead of Choudhary, but the 25-year-old Maharashtra seamer has quickly moved up the pecking order to become their first-choice powerplay option.
His first ball to Rohit was a full inswinger, which the opener squirted out. The second was a length-ball inswinger that stopped on Rohit and had him weakly chipping a catch to mid-on. In the same over, he knocked over Kishan with a yorker that swerved away from him. Brevis then advanced down the track, but Choudhary bested him with an offcutter. In all, Choudhary bowled three overs in the powerplay, claiming figures of 3 for 19.
Varma, Shokeen repair Mumbai's innings
Suryakumar dashed out of the blocks, but Mitchell Santner and Jadeja then slowed him down with restrictive lines. Suryakumar went searching for release and ended up splicing a sweep to deep square leg for 32 off 21 balls. Mumbai were 47 for 4 in the eighth over at that point, with Super Kings' spin trio of Santner, Jadeja, and Maheesh Theekshana in control.
Varma and Hrithik Shokeen, who was playing his first formal T20 match, steadied the innings with a 38-run fifth-wicket partnership. Bravo then snapped the stand when he had Shokeen holing out for a run-a-ball 25. After being on a run-a-ball 35, Varma turned up the tempo to end with 51 not out off 43 balls.
History repeats itself at the DY Patil Stadium
In the 2010 IPL final, Dhoni had Matthew Hayden at an unorthodox straight mid-off position, in addition to having a more conventional long-off. Dhoni dared Pollard to go over the top and he ended up holing out to straight mid-off. Twelve years later at the same venue, Super Kings had posted a straight long-on, in addition to a more conventional long-on. Pollard took the bait once again, picking out Shivam Dube at straight long-on for 14 off 9 balls. Despite that, Mumbai hit 29 off the last two overs to give their bowlers something to bowl at.
After being carted for 35 runs in a single over by Pat Cummins, Daniel Sams marked his comeback on Thursday by giving up only 30 runs in his entire set. Tellingly, he struck in each of his four overs to dent Super Kings' chase.
After snagging Ruturaj Gaikwad and Santner in the powerplay, Sams returned to remove the in-form Dube and the set Ambati Rayudu. Rayudu rallied Super Kings' middle order with 40 off 35 balls before splicing a full-toss to Pollard at long-off.
Dhoni ices the chase
When Riley Meredith had Jadeja caught at long-off with a slower cutter, Super Kings required 50 off 26 balls. Pretorius, who walloped a 21-ball 43 at No. 3 for Paarl Rocks in the 2019 MSL final, introduced IPL fans to his big-hitting when he belted Bumrah for four in the 'V' in front of the wicket and then scooped him for four more in the other 'V'.
He fell at the start of the final over, but Dhoni completed the job Pretorius had begun. When Unadkat missed his on-pace yorker and bowled a half-volley, Dhoni crunched him over long-off for six. The next ball was a slower bouncer, which was hauled over short fine leg for four. Unadkat finally nailed a yorker fifth ball, but Dhoni scampered back for two. He marginally missed the yorker last ball, which was enough for Dhoni to shovel it past short fine leg for the winning four.
In all, Dhoni has smashed 105 runs off 43 balls from Unadkat while being dismissed just once in T20 cricket.