Chennai Super Kings bowlers displayed lot of discipline at the death to defeat Deccan Chargers by 19 runs in an IPL match at the Chepauk on Sunday.
Chasing a stiff target of 166, the defending champions restricted Chargers to 146 for eight in 20 overs despite a flying start by the visitors.
Pint sized Chargers opener Sunny Sohal (56, 30 balls, 6x4, 4x6) initially scared Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men with some clean hitting but once he was gone CSK came back into the match. Credit should be given to CSK as Chargers had raced to 71 for no loss in only 6.4 overs courtesy Sohal.
Dhoni made some smart bowling changes and his bowlers led by Albie Morkel (3-38 and 19 off 6 balls), Doug Bollinger (2-26) and Ravichandran Ashwin (0-23 off 4 overs) bowled well in the final overs as CSK notched up their fifth win eight matches and are now fourth in the points table.
Sohal scored the fastest 50 of this edition when he reached the landmark in 24 deliveries with the help of a flat batted six off Ravichandran Ashwin.
Sohal's approach was a bit unorthodox but yielded rich dividends. When Morkel delivered a well-directed short-ball aimed at his rib-cage, he lost his balance hung his bat to get a four through third man region. But the little man wasn't unperturbed by short stuff as he made room moving towards leg-stump to hit Morkel over extra cover.
Such was Sohal's authority that his senior partner Shikhar Dhawan hadn't even reached double figures when he completed his 50. When Sohal departed trying an ugly reverse sweep to a low full-toss from Shadab Jakati onto his stumps. Dhawan (19, 27 balls) who is having a lean patch was gone when he tried to hit Jakati over deep mid-wicket but the ball turned enough to castle him.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara (15, 1x4, 1x6)announced his arrival with a sweetly-timed boundary of Suraj Randiv followed by slog sweep off Jakati that got him six runs. Bharat Chipli (17) failed to keep down his flick and became Morkel's first victim.
However, post Sohal's dismissal, the fizz was gone and suddenly the CSK bowlers looked like getting a hang of things. In his bid to step up the rate, Sangakkara moved towards off-stump trying to guide a Doug Bollinger delivery past fine leg but couldn't connect as the ball hit middle stump. After that it was about holding their nerves which CSK bowlers did.
Earlier a fine half century from Suresh Raina backed by superb slogging by Albie Morkel at the death helped defending champions Chennai Super Kings post commendable 165 for five against Deccan Chargers on a slow Chepauk track.
While Raina showed signs of returing to form with a 35-ball 59 (6x4, 2x6), it was Albie Morkel (19, 6 balls, 3x6) who hit three of the biggest sixes in the penultimate over off Ishant Sharma's (4-0-41-0) bowling to spoil his figures.
The last five overs saw CSK smashing 69 runs with Raina, doing the bulk of the scoring.
Opting to bat on a slowish track, Murali Vijay and Michael Hussey made quiet start before Pragyan OJha (3-26) dismissed Vijay.
Ojha angled one into Vijay (3, 14 balls) who was cramped for room while going for a cut-shot. Vijay was struggling to keep the scoreboard ticking on a slowish pitch and the dismissal only ended his misery.
Raina, who hasn't had a great IPL so far showed lot of composure on a slow track where one found it difficult to readily go after the bowling.
At the other end 'Mr Dependable' Hussey went about his job with lot of precision hitting the odd boundary in between a lot of singles and twos. Hussey's batting was an example of how to keep the scoreboard ticking on a difficult track without taking any undue risks. The only blemish was a pull shot which Cameron White dropped at square leg.
Hussey saw off the dangerous Ishant Sharma's skiddy first spell and then opened up against the other bowlers.
The duo brought up the team's 50 in 8.3 overs and their 50 partnership came off 47 balls. Considering the conditions, the rate at which they scored wasn't bad at all.
After adding 60 runs in 8.5 overs when another half century looked imminent for Hussey, he perished mistiming a long hop from Harmeet Singh. Ideally the ball should have sailed over the ropes but Hussey managed to hit down Ishant's throat at deep square leg.
Raina was then joined by skipper Dhoni who tucked around a few deliveries before launching on to Amit Mishra hitting him over long for a six. Raina then got into the act swatting the bowler over deep mid-wicket for another six as 15 runs came off that over.
The next over by Harmeet Singh also fetched the defending champions 15 runs with Raina completing a well deserved half century off only 31 balls. Along with Dhoni he added 58 runs in 5.2 overs before he was holed out in the deep.