Suresh Raina's superb century helped Chennai Super Kings take a giant stride towards qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Indian Premier League on Thursday.
The two-time champions defeated Kings XI Punjab by 15 runs to win their seventh match on the trot.
Raina scored an unbeaten 100 in Chennai’s total of 186 for four before their bowlers restricted Kings XI to 171 for six, despite a brilliant conter-attacking partnership of 95 between between Shaun Marsh, who scored a 51-ball 73 (8x4, 2x6), and David Miller (51 not out, 26 balls, 5x4, 2x6).
The victory took Chennai’s points tally to 18 from 11 matches. They are now on the threshold of a berth in the semi-finals of the tournament. The seventh successive win is an IPL record, which they now share with Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Needing 19 to win off the last over, Dwayne Bravo bowled intelligently, giving away only three runs which taking three wickets, to finish with figures of three for 34.
Marsh and Miller were on a 'Mission Impossible', but played their part admirably well to get close to the target. In the end, though, 186 proved too much.
After Haryana medium-pacer Mohit Sharma dealt a severe blow by removing both openers, Luke Pomersbach and Mandeep Singh, in quick succession, it was always going to be a catch-up game for the Kings XI batsmen. But credit to Marsh, who grabbed with both hands the chance to open the innings after regular captain Adam Gilchrist sat himself out in the last two matches after a string of poor scores, they stretched the former champions.
Earlier, Raina batted magnificently to strike exactly 100 off only 53 balls, inclusive of seven fours and half a dozen sixes.
The Uttar Pradesh left-hander is the third batsman after Chris Gayle and Shane Watson to score a century in the current edition.
Batting on 91 at the start of final over, Raina reached 97 with a brilliant straight six off Parvinder Awana, and then scampered home for a double.
Off the penultimate delivery of the final over he took a single to reach the milestone as the heads totting the stands at the Chepauk gave him a standing ovation.
In the last five overs, Chennai pulverised the Punjab bowlers for 70 runs.
Wriddhiman Saha struck a four and a six during his innings of 18 before he was caught by Shaun Marsh at deep square leg off Awana's bowling.
Hussey and Raina hardly took any risks and yet added 55 runs in only 7.2 overs.
While Hussey was content rotating the strike, Raina repeatedly peppered the off-side field with his trademark shots in between the cover and extra-cover arc.
When leggie Piyush Chawla came on to bowl, Raina punished him with a huge six over deep mid-wicket.
If Raina played the cover dives with consummate ease, Hussey was equally good with the pull shots. The Australian was out when he tried to give Chawla the charge, only to be stumped by wicketkeeper Gurkeerat Singh in the process.
Hussey scored 35 runs off 29 balls, with three boundaries.