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It wasn't the prettiest game of cricket you will ever see, but the Chennai Super Kings squeezed past the Deccan Chargers by 10 runs on Friday night to temporarily claim a place in the top 4 of the Indian Premier League points table. Batting first, Chennai took advantage of Deccan's consistently profligate fielding to post a competitive 160/6 in their 20 overs. Faf du Plessis top scored for the hosts with a scratchy 42, while Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni posted useful 30s. Deccan looked on course for the win at the half-way stage of their innings at 76/1, but lost their way in the middle overs. Cameron White made a very handy 77 from 53-balls, but was run out with 9 balls left in the match, and that made it hard for Deccan to get across the finish line. The loss for Deccan virtually ends their hopes of reaching the knock-out rounds, and perhaps with the pressure off, we could see them picking up some wins in the games to come.
Two teams in desperate need of some points - the Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers - clashed at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Match no.46 of the Indian Premier League on Friday night. While Deccan's plight was largely predicted at the start of the tournament, Chennai came into IPL season 5 as one of the favourites, and a third consecutive defeat tonight could leave them with a Herculean task of needing to win every game from here on till the end of the tournament.
The spin of the coin went Chennai's way, and MS Dhoni was happy to make first use of a pitch that tends to turn prodigiously. Chennai made two edits to their side, dropping Michael Hussey for Ben Hilfenhaus as they attempted to strengthen their bowling, and gave Murali Vijay another chance to impress after a poor start with the unfortunate Yo Mahesh making way. There were also two change to the Deccan line-up with Abhishek Jhunjhunwala coming into the side in place of Cuttack lad Biplab Samantray and Dan Christian making a surprise return to the playing eleven in place of JP Duminy.
Chennai got off to a blistering start, posting 56 runs in the mandatory powerplay for the loss of Murali Vijay (14). Faf du Plessis continued to look in good touch and handled the Deccan seamers with consumate ease, while Murali Vijay also threatened a return to form by racing along to 14 before falling to Veer Pratap Singh, caught at third man. Suresh Raina came in at no.3 and was fortunate to survive a pacey over from Dale Steyn, with an edge brushing little Parthiv Patel's fingers on its way to the boundary. Raina decided to power his way back into form hitting Veer for 21 runs in the following over, including consecutive sixes. It was a disappointing outcome for Singh, who also witnessed a routine chance put down of Du Plessis in the same over. A 9-run over from Dan Christian followed, leaving Chennai well on top at the end of the powerplay.
Deccan's catching continued to let them down with Du Plessis offering a chance off Mishra, but the fielder on the boundary tipped the ball over the fence. Jhunjhunwala was able to get through a couple of quiet overs from the other end, and was soon in the action in the field, latching on to a chance offered by Raina off Mishra, sending the Indian middle order man back to the hutch for 32.
Chennai seemed to have sorted out their batting order for this important game with MS Dhoni walking in at no.4. The runs flowed steadily with Dhoni and Du Plessis adding 30 for the third wicket in 21 balls before the latter was dismissed for 42, with Veer Pratap Singh picking up another crucial wicket. At the end of the 14th over though, Chennai were well poised for a late assault at 118/3.
Deccan landed a crucial blow right after the timeout with Jhunjhunwala adding a wicket to his glorious figures by removing Albie Morkel for 13. Ravindra Jadeja joined MS Dhoni in the middle, however, rather surprisingly the Indian duo struggled to score runs at the desired pace. The next three overs conceded just 15 runs as Deccan staged a late fightback. Jadeja fell in the 19th over to Ashish Reddy for a 9-ball 4 as Deccan put on the big squeeze.
Deccan landed a vital blow with Daniel Christian knocking back MS Dhoni's middle stump on the first ball of the final over to give the visitors cause for optimism. Dwayne Bravo was dropped on the third ball of the over, and the West Indian allrounder made Deccan pay by smashing the next ball for a maximum. Bravo's let-off cost Deccan 12 runs allowing Chennai to finish at 160/6 at the end of 20 overs, a par score which neither side would be too unhappy with.
Deccan made a competitive start in their chase, posting 47 runs for the loss of Parthiv Patel. Patel fell for 1, cleaned up by Albie Morkel, but the ever reliable Shikhar Dhawan and Aussie veteran Cameron White stitched together a 38 run stand to guide the team to a position of strength. Dwayne Bravo's opening over conceded 15 runs including three boundaries in an otherwise uneventful opening 6 overs.
At the midway stage, Deccan were very much on track in the chase, having made their way through to 76/1. Sadly for Deccan though, that's when Chennai stormed back into the contest with wickets in consecutive overs. Dwayne Bravo dropped a caught and bowled chance offered by Cameron White, but the ball ricocheted onto the stumps and Dhawan found himself short of his crease having made 36. In the next over, Raina took an excellent catch off his own bowling to send back Sangakkara for 1. It was Chennai's turn to squeeze the runs with just 7 coming off the next two overs.
With 69 needed off the last 6 overs, Daniel Christian announced himself on the big stage with a gorgeous flick over midwicket. Jadeja and Bravo though sneaked in another couple of quiet overs to push the equation up to an unlikely 47 off 18 balls. White responded by launching into Jadeja in the 18th over of the innings, smashing 18 runs off the over including 2 sixes. Jadeja though got his own back by running White out for 77 in the next over to put a huge dent in Deccan's chances. Only 9 runs came off that penultimate over to leave Deccan needing 20 from the last over to win.
Debutant Ben Hilfenhaus was given the responsibility of bowling the last over in his first IPL match, and the experienced Aussie did his job to perfection, conceding 10 to see Chennai past the finish line.
It wasn't a great effort from Chennai, who are still looking rather rusty, but a win is a win is a win. Deccan will once again look back at this game and wonder if the result would have been very different had their held on to their chances. Just removing the extra runs that Bravo scored after he was dropped in the final over of the Chennai innings would have been enough to alter the result of this game.
A rejuvenated Chennai side will head off to Mumbai next where they take on the Indians in another crucial encounter on Sunday afternoon. Deccan are now for all practical purposes out of the reckoning and will look to play spoilers when they take on the Royal Challengers in Bangalore later on Sunday evening.
Chennai Super Kings: Murali Vijay, S Badrinath, F du Plessis, S Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), R Jadeja, D Bravo, A Morkel, R Ashwin, S Jakati, Ben Hilfenhaus.
Deccan Chargers: P Patel (wk), S Dhawan, K Sangakkara (c), C White, D Christian, A Jhunjhunwala, A Sharma, A Ashish Reddy, A Mishra, D Steyn, Veer Pratap Singh
Chennai Super Kings 160/6 (20 overs, 8rpo)
F du Plessis 42 (35) VP Singh 2-35
MS Dhoni 34 (28) A Jhunjhunwala 1-13
Deccan Chargers 150/5 (20 overs, 7.5rpo)
C White 77 (53) S Raina 1-5
S Dhawan 36 (29) A Morkel 1-16
File Photograph Copyright: Michael Henn
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