The thriller at Chepauk twisted and turned before exploding at the finish. Delhi Daredevils was one hit away from victory with a wicket and a delivery remaining. With a six required off the last ball, the rampaging Albie Morkel bludgeoned seamer Dwayne Bravo past covers for a heart-breaking boundary.
Chennai Super Kings, defending 150, was home by a run at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday. Daredevils needed 19 off the last over. The rampaging Morkel (73 not out) clubbed a six, smashed two fours and ran a brace and a single but came up just short.
This was a game where Daredevils may have also blundered tactically. Holding back its most influential batsmen, Yuvraj Singh and Jean-Paul Duminy, till the fall of the fourth wicket was a high-risk gamble in such a shortened format.
Yuvraj arrived after 13.1 over had been bowled; the score was 87 for four. With pressure mounting, Yuvraj (9) was done in by a deceptive short-pitched ball from Bravo. Soon, the left-handed Duminy (5) played on to seamer Ishwar Pandey.
The side simply did not give its best batsmen time and space to build an innings and assume control.
This was a night where off-spinner R. Ashwin impressed with his variety and control after old soldier Ashish Nehra struck telling blows at the start.
Interestingly, left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja was not used by Dhoni.
Opting to chase, Daredevils had restricted the host to a manageable score but the pursuit was going to be hazardous in CSK’s fortress.
The lively Nehra showed he still had some gas left in the tank. The left-armer dismissed opener C.M. Gautam and Mayank Agarwal with subtle alteration of pace and use of angles.
The crafty Nehra continued to build pressure, and Shreyas Iyer lost the plot by resorting to a slog.
Earlier, Brendon McCullum, typically, lived life on the edge. Reprieved at first slip by Yuvraj off Nathan Coulter-Nile, he then, fatally, attempted to blast a short-of-length delivery from the same bowler.
Suresh Raina, pegged back by Coulter-Nine, took a swipe at the paceman only to have his stumps rearranged.
The broad shouldered Australian hit the deck hard from a strong action. The surface at Chepauk offered him bounce too.
Dwayne Smith cut loose against Morkel. The West Indian and a fluent du Plessis ensured CSK was racing at 59 for two after six overs of PowerPlay.
Not much later, spin was introduced. Smith’s (34) pull, off leg-spinner Imran Tahir, was taken in deep mid-wicket. du Plessis (32) miscued a lofted hit off Duminy’s off-spin for Shreyas to hold a fine catch at wide long-off.
The leg-spin duo of Tahir and Amit Mishra bowled capably. Both flighted and spun the ball, employed the googly effectively, and pushed back the run-rate. They contained and struck.
The left-handed Jadeja hit Mishra for a straight six, but then, jumped out to a cleverly bowled wrong ’un to be stumped.
The open-chested, whippy and skiddy Domnic Joseph won a marginal leg-before decision against Bravo.
Some handy pyrotechnics from M.S. Dhoni (30), however, took the host to 150.
Chennai Super Kings: Dwayne Smith c Coulter-Nile b Tahir 34 (31b, 6x4), Brendon McCullum c Yuvraj b Coulter-Nile 4 (2b, 1x4), Suresh Raina b Coulter-Nile 4 (7b), Faf du Plessis c Shreyas b Duminy 32 (24b, 3x4), Ravindra Jadeja st. Gautam b Mishra 17 (18b, 1x4, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni c Agarwal b Coulter-Nile 30 (27b, 1x4, 2x6), Dwayne Bravo lbw b Domnic 1 (3b), R. Ashwin (not out) 12 (8b, 1x4), Mohit Sharma (not out) 2 (1b); Extras (b-1, lb-10, w-2, nb-1): 14; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 150.
Fall of wickets: 1-20 (McCullum), 2-38 (Raina), 3-71 (Smith), 4-100 (du Plessis), 5-117 (Jadeja), 6-120 (Bravo), 7-148 (Dhoni).
Delhi Daredevils bowling: Albie Morkel 3-0-28-0, Nathan Coulter-Nile 4-0-30-3, Domnic Muthuswamy 3-0-18-1, Imran Tahir 4-0-27-1, Amit Mishra 4-0-21-1, J-P Duminy 2-0-15-1.
Delhi Daredevils: Mayank Agarwal c Dhoni b Nehra 15 (12b, 2x4, 1x6), C.M. Gautam c Bravo b Nehra 4 (5b), Albie Morkel (not out) 73 (55b, 8x4, 1x6), Shreyas Iyer c du Plessis b Nehra 7 (7b, 1x4), Kedar Jadhav c Jadeja b Mohit 20 (20b, 2x4), Yuvraj Singh c Pandey b Bravo 9 (6b, 1x4), J-P Duminy b Pandey 5 (5b), Nathan Coulter-Nile b Ashwin 5 (4b, 1x4), Amit Mishra (run out) 4 (4b), Imran Tahir c Raina b Bravo 2 (2b), Domnic Joseph (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (w-5): 5; Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs): 149.
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Gautam), 2-20 (Agarwal), 3-39 (Shreyas), 4-87 (Jadhav), 5-99 (Yuvraj), 6-106 (Duminy), 7-123 (Coulter-Nile), 8-129 (Mishra), 9-137 (Tahir).
Chennai Super Kings bowling: Ashish Nehra 4-0-25-3, Mohit Sharma 4-0-33-1, Ishwar Pandey 4-0-30-1, R. Ashwin 4-0-25-1, Dwayne Bravo 4-0-36-2.