Riding on captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's blistering 20-ball 51-run innings, defending champions Chennai Super Kings romped into the second qualifiers by knocking Mumbai Indians out of the tournament with a comfortable 38-run victory in the IPL eliminator in Bangalore.
With this win, Chennai inched closer to their third successive title and will now lock horns with Delhi Daredevils on Friday at home in the qualifier-II, the winner of which will take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the summit clash on Sunday at the same venue.
The thrilling victory at the M Chinnaswamy stadium also paved Chennai's way to the next Champions League.
The victory was set up by two brilliant partnerships by Chennai batsmen. First it was the 94-run third-wicket stand between S Badrinath (47) and Michael Hussey (49), which helped Chennai to recover after being precariously placed at 1 for 2 in 1.2 overs.
While the second partnership was the unbeaten 73-run stand between skipper Dhoni (51 off 20) and Dwayne Bravo (33), which catapulted Chennai to a challenging 187 for five in their stipulated 20 overs.
It was a special innings by Dhoni as he butchered the Mumbai bowlers, blasting six fours and two sixes in his 20-ball whirlwind innings.
For Mumbai, Dhawal Kulkarni (3/46) was the most successful bowler, while Kieron Pollard (1/26) and James Franklin (1/12) took one wicket each.
Chasing the stiff target, Mumbai could muster only 149 for nine in their stipulated 20 overs with opener Dwayne Smith (38) being the top-scorer.
The Chennai bowlers also put up a brilliant show with Dwayne Bravo (2/10) and Albie Morkel (2/31) making the most damage, while SB Jakati (1/25), B Hilfenhaus (1/45), R Ashwin (1/18), RA Jadeja (1/15) also contributing to the win.
Earlier, invited to bat, Chennai were 47 after nine overs but the defending champions amassed 140 runs off the last 11 overs to set Mumbai a stiff target.
Electing to bowl, skipper Harbhajan Singh led from the front giving away just one run in his first two overs but it was Kulkarni who provided the early breakthrough, removing Murali Vijay (1) and Suresh Raina (0) in his first two balls.
First he had Vijay (1) caught by Rohit Sharma in the first slip and then had Raina edging onto his middle stump for a golden duck.
S Badrinath and Mike Hussey rescued Chennai after the early blows but lost some wickets in the middle overs. They were 118-5 in the 16th over.
But skipper Dhoni turned the screws on and showed some urgency making 32 runs in 12 balls. Bravo was giving him able support at the other end scoring briskly.
Dhoni started his innings in inimitable style by whipping Pollard over the infield to deep mid wicket fence. Dhoni also played his trademark helicopter short to notch up a mammoth six off Franklin.
Dhoni cut loose in the 16th over, smacking three boundaries and getting 14 useful runs in the same over.
In 17th over, Bravo and Dhoni plundered strokeful 13 runs off Malinga. After smacking a beautiful four off RP Singh, Bravo brought up Chennai total to 150 in the 18th over with a single to deep midwicket. Bravo again drove past extra cover for a boundary in the 18th over off RP Singh.
Dhoni and Bravo took Malinga to the cleaners hitting one six and two boundaries and getting 18 runs in the crucial 19th over en route to their 50-run partnership in the over.
In the 20th over, Bravo blasted two more sixes to swell the total further.
Earlier, Badrinath and Hussey took Chennai to 47 for two in first nine overs. Soon after the first timeout, the duo raised the tempo by taking Harbhajan and Pollard apart, making 33 runs in the 10th and 11th over.
Hussey and Badrinath clobbered a couple of sixes and a boundary in the 11th over off Harbhajan who conceded 19 runs. The score at the end of the over read 80 for 2.
Observing from the other end, Mumbai captain tossed the ball to Malinga who did a wonderful job to give just two runs to Chennai bringing down the runrate considerably.
But Hussey whacked RP Singh for two consecutive pull shots to the midwicket fence, smacking 12 runs in the 13th over.
Pollard, however, brought some cheers for Mumbai fans after he broke the 94-run partnership between Badrinath and Hussey for the third wicket. He had the Chennai lad caught at long on by Rohit Sharma.
James Franklin in 15th over removed Hussey, who looking to get a big one under his belt, succumbed hitting straight into the hands of waiting Kulkarni in the deep.