Riding on a solid batting performance, the formidable Chennai Super Kings opened their Champions League Twenty20 campaign in style, defeating South Africa's Titans by four wickets in a high-scoring encounter in Ranchi on Sunday.
Mike Hussey (47) and Suresh Raina (47) clobbered the Titan bowlers to add 89 runs in just 44 balls for the second-wicket, which swung the match decisively in Chennai’s favour.
Chasing 186, the Indian side reached the target with seven balls to spare.
Dwayne Bravo too played an enterprising innings of 26-ball 38, laced with four fours and two sixes, as Chennai scored 187 for six in 18.5 overs.
Hussey and Raina negated AB de Villiers' whirlwind half-century for the Titans in the first innings as the Chennai squeezed their way to a comprehensive win.
De Villiers would have thought the job was done after his 36-ball 77 helped the Titans post a daunting target for Chennai. However, Hussey and Raina made proficient use of an insipid line bowled by the Titan bowlers and stitched a match-winning partnership after the early loss of opener Murali Vijay (0), who was bowled by an arm ball by Roelof van der Merwe.
The Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium again witnessed a brief power failure when one of the floodlights conked off and players left the arena. After a brief stoppage, players came back on the field and Merwe completed the first over.
Titan bowlers erred by feeding Hussey and Raina with short-pitched deliveries that were dispatched to the deep mid-wicket fence on most occasions. Both put on display their prolific shotmaking and quick running between the wickets as they brought the home crowd to their feet.
David Wisse provided the breakthrough when he had Raina caught by Morkel at mid-off.
Raina's 28-ball knock was laced with five fours and two sixes.
Hussey too made his way back to the pavillion after being caught by de Villiers at mid-off. Hussey, who was looking set for a big score, faced 26 deliveries and hit seven fours and one six.
Dwayne Bravo and S Badrinath combined well for the fourth wicket and took Chennai from 114 for three in 10 overs to 172 for four.
Bravo showed no mercy to Titan bowlers as he continued the onslaught and struck two sixes during his innings to take Chennai within sniffing distance of victory.
Just at the business end of the innings, Chennai lost three quick wickets in the form of Bravo, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (7) and Ravindra Jadeja (0) but Albie Morkel (4) and Badrinath ensured no more casualties.
Earlier, de Villiers's hurricane knock and skipper Davids' responsible 52 paved the way for Titans' challenging total against the home favourites.
Sent in to bat, South African T20 runners-up Titans built on the 39-ball 76-run partnership between Davids and De Villiers for the second wicket to post a competitive total.
De Villiers played a whirlwind knock and treated the Chennai bowlers with disdain. The right-hander was at his destructive best and blasted as many as seven sixes and three fours during his brutal display of strokeplay.
Even after the departure of Davids in the 14th over, De Villiers remained the star of the show and seemed in no mood to relent.
De Villiers was particularly harsh on left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja as the bowler leaked 49 runs from his three overs.
Titans started the proceedings on a confident note as Davids and Jacques Rudolph (21), who had scored a double hundred on his Test debut vs Bangladesh, put on 46 runs for the opening-wicket partnership.
Next man-in, de Villiers initially ran hard for ones and twos but once he got his eyes set, he was unstoppable.
De Villiers upped the ante with a big six over deep mid wicket off Jadeja and deposited another over mid-wicket fence off Dwayne Bravo to put the Titans past 100 mark in 12 overs.
Davids departed in the 14th over after completing his half-century when he was stumped by Dhoni off Ashwin.
Titans scored 113 runs in the last 10 overs with De Villiers being the aggressor. CSK tried to pull things back when Jason Holder scalped Farhaan Behardien (21) and David Wiese (0) within a space of three balls in the 18th over but the damage had been done until then.
De Villiers continued his onslaught and hit Bravo over long on for the maximum as Titans reached 161 for four after 18 overs. Jadeja got his man in the next over when de Villiers was caught by Bravo at long off.
For Chennai, Bravo was the most successful bowler with figures of two for 34.
Image: Suresh Raina