Opener Ambati Rayudu scored his maiden century in the Indian Premier League as Chennai Super Kings coasted to an easy eight-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad to virtually seal a play-offs berth, in Pune, on Sunday.
Rayudu, in great touch this season, remained unbeaten on exactly 100 off 62 balls, which included seven fours and seven sixes, as CSK chased down the target of 180 with one over to spare.
The 32-year-old batsman stitched a 134-run stand with senior partner Shane Watson (57) for the opening wicket to lay the foundation for the comprehensive victory.
Watson, also one of the centurions in this IPL, hit five fours and three sixes during his 35-ball knock.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was not out on 20 off 14 balls as CSK got to 180 for 2 from 19 overs.
Rayudu carried his bat through the innings as he crossed 500 runs this season. He is third in the top run-getters’ list with 535, behind Sunrisers captain Kane Williamson (544) and Kings XI Punjab's Lokesh Rahul (537).
The former champions snapped Sunrisers’s six-match winning streak this season.
The Sunrisers, who have already qualified for the play-offs, remain on top of the league table with 18 points from 12 matches while CSK are second with 16 points from the same number of matches.
Rayudu and Watson gave scant respect to the Sunrisers’s bowlers, touted as the best in this IPL, as they were rarely troubled by the bowling attack which had the likes of India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and highly-rated Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan.
Bhuvneshwar had another rare poor day in office, after the treatment he got from Delhi Daredevils's Rishabh Pant, as he leaked 38 runs from his four overs without any success.
Rashid went wicket-less and conceded 25 runs while Bangladeshi left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan was hit for 41 runs without any success.
Medium pacer Siddharth Kual leaked 40 runs from his three overs as the Sunrisers bowlers had a rare collective off day.
CSK got off to a flier in the run-chase, scoring 53 for no loss in the powerplay overs, Rayudu hitting Bhuvneshwar for two sixes during that period and Watson doing the dame to Sandeep Sharma (1/36).
By the halfway mark, CSK had galloped to 93 for no loss. The quick dismissal of Watson and Suresh Raina (2) gave the Sunrisers bowlers brief hope but Rayudu continued his six-hitting spree as Dhoni gave him company till the end to ensure there were no hiccups in the chase.
Earlier, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and captain Kane Williamson continued their fine form this season. The two batsmen struck fluent half centuries to take Sunrisers to 179 for 4 after being sent in to bat.
Dhawan and Williamson continued from where they left in their last match in Delhi, scoring the bulk of Sunrisers’s runs in a 123-run stand for the second wicket.
The Sunrisers were slow to start off, with just 29 runs in the powerplay overs. They also lost the wicket of opener Alex Hales (2), mainly due to a fine spell of bowling by medium pacer Deepak Chahar, who opened the bowling and had figures of 4-0-16-1.
Even Dhawan and Williamson found it difficult to score off Chahar.
At the halfway stage, the Sunrisers were 62 for 1 and with wickets in hand they shifted gears in the second half of their innings to add 115 runs in the last 10 overs.
Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh bore the brunt as they were given some rought treatment by Dhawan and Williamson who hit a few fours and sixes off them. Harbhajan gave way 26 runs from his two overs, while Jadeja leaked 24 from the same number of overs.
Dhawan and Willaimson then rained in fours and sixes as they added 68 runs in five overs after the halfway stage to take their side to 130 for one at the end of the 15th over. The duo, however, departed in quick succession to give a twist to the match.
Dhawan was out to the last ball of the 16th over, bowled by Bravo, and Williamson got dismissed in the first ball of the next over, bowled by Shardul Thakur.
With the departure of the two set batsmen, the tempo slowed down. Manish Pandey’s poor run continued. He was out for 5 in the 19th over as the Sunrisers added 49 runs from the final five overs.