Chennai: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashed a superb half-century under pressure as Chennai Super Kings recorded a close six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their Pepsi IPL match, here on Thursday.
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Chasing a tricky 160-run target, Chennai were in a spot of bother after a good start but Dhoni lifted the side to its sixth win out of eight matches with an unbeaten 67.
Riding on Shikhar Dhawan`s scintillating knock of 63, Sunrisers Hyderabad recovered from early jolts to post a competitive 159 for six after electing to bat.
Playing his first match of the season, Dhawan propelled his side, which has been playing low-scoring games and winning them on the back of a strong bowling attack.
Ashish Reddy also played a very useful unbeaten cameo of 36 and his 43-run partnership with Dhawan was crucial in Hyderabad`s revival after losing three early wickets.
Hyderabad scored 59 runs in the last four overs and that propelled them to a fighting total. However, Chennai had enough batting fire-power to overhaul the target and to record their sixth win out of eight matches.
Openers Michael Hussey (45) and Murali Vijay (18) laid a solid platform with a 65-run stand. Spinner Amit Mishra dismissed both the openers with googlies but he grassed a chance offered by Dhoni when he miscued a hook off Dale Steyn and that proved a costly miss. Dhoni had not even opened his account at that time.
Mishra also scalped Suresh Raina (16) soon and that did affect Chennai`s run-scoring even as Dhoni was at the crease. The other spinner Karan Sharma also bowled exceptionally well as he gave away just 8 runs in his four overs.
Chennai needed 46 runs in the last four overs and Dhoni began the 17th over with two consecutive sixes off Dale Steyn.
Ishant Sharma got rid of Dwayne Bravo in the next over when the West Indies batsman tried to hit the paceman out of the park but found Reddy at deep mid-wicket.
Dhoni hit Steyn for a four and a six but the South African removed Ravindra Jadeja to leave Chennai requiring 15 runs from the last over.
The Indian skipper hammered Ashish Reddy, who was a surprise choice for last over, for a six and two fours, steering the side to win with two balls to spare.
Earlier, Dhawan`s unbeaten knock came off 45 balls with 10 shots to the fence while Reddy`s 36 came off 16 balls with two fours and three sixes. Darren Sammy also played a quickfire 19 for the visitors.
Dhawan was out of field for some time after taking a ferocious hit on his groin off Dwayne Bravo and in that time Reddy did a pretty good job for his side.
At one time, it looked that there would be no end to Hyderabad`s batting woes but inclusion of Dhawan, who missed first seven games due to a hand fracture, lifted the side.
More than the bowling it was exceptional fielding that gave Chennai two early wickets. Murali Vijay took a firmly-hit but uppish shot by Quinton de Kock (4) at mid-on off Mohit Sharma while Suresh Raina`s direct hit from covers area sent back Hanuma Vihari (2).
Much depended Dhawan and the left-hander did not disappoint his side. He drove, pulled and cut effortlessly the Chennai pacers -- Mohit and Holder.
Dhawan carried on from where he had left while playing against Australia in India`s Test series.
He unleashed a few boundaries to give provide impetuous to his side`s innings but lost Cameron (2) from the other end when his skipper edged one behind off Mohit.
Dhawan was batting well from one end, holding fort, but Hyderabad kept losing wickets as Amit Mishra too departed after a short stay, during which he scored 15 runs.
But the biggest blow to Hyderabad was dealt when Dhawan took a blow on his groin off Bravo and had to leave the field. He was batting on a solid 44 at that time in the 14th over of the innings.
First Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013, 23:54