Chennai Super Kings overcame some anxious moments before huffing and puffing to a five-wicket win over a fighting Sunrisers Hyderabad in a thrilling Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket match in Sharjah on Sunday.
Chasing 146 for their fourth win in a row, Chennai achieved the target with three balls to spare as openers Dwayne Smith (66) and Brendon McCullum (40) laid a solid foundation with their 85-run partnership in 10.5 overs.
Smith and McCullum made batting look easy as they struck the ball effortlessly even as all other batsmen struggled on a difficult wicket.
Chennai were cruising at one stage, needing just 22 runs from the last five overs with eight wickets in hand but young Indian paceman Bhuvaneshwar Kumar changed the complexion of the game by dismissing Smith and Faf du Plessis (0) in the same over.
Ishant Sharma got rid of Ravindra Jadeja in the 19th over to cause ripples in the Chennai camp.
CSK needed six runs off the last over, bowled by Amit Mishra, and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni finished it off in style, dismissing a full toss to square leg boundary.
Smith anchored the CSK chase with his 46-ball knock that was embellished with five sixes and four shots to the fence.
Chennai had control over the contest for the most part but for the last two overs of the Hyderabad innings when their bowlers took a beating to concede 32 runs and later in the final overs of their own innings.
It was Australian batsman Aaron Finch's fighting 44-run knock and a splendid rearguard action that propelled Hyderabad to a competitive 145 for five.
The Australian batsman held the one end when wickets fell consistently from the other before departing in the fag end.
Finch added 52 runs for the third wicket with Lokesh Rahul (25) and had it not been for some lusty hits by Darren Sammy (23 not out) and Karan Sharma (17 not out) towards the end, Hyderabad would not have posted a decent total.
Sharma hammered paceman Ben Hilfenhaus for two sixes in the penultimate over and Sammy also succeeded in hitting a maximum off Mohit Sharma in the final over.
Explosive New Zealand batsman McCullum, who had hit a fiery half-century in the last match, yet again provided a fantastic start to CSK, hitting some exquisite boundaries before being castled by spinner Karan Sharma.
McCullum entertained the crowd with three shots to the fence and two over the boundary ropes in his 33-ball knock.
Despite losing his partner, Smith went about his business calmly and completed his third half-century of this season with a single off paceman Ishant Sharma. The burly West Indian then clobbered Amit Mishra for a six to raise 100 of the CSK innings.
Suresh Raina hit a sweetly-timed six off Ishant Sharma but the paceman got his revenge by having the left-hander caught in the last ball of that over.
Earlier, it was not the best of starts for Hyderabad as Hilfenhaus dismissed skipper Shikhar Dhawan (7) and David Warner (0) in space of three balls in the fifth over.
Dhawan attempted a pull but there was no force in the shot, which landed straight into the hands of Mithun Manhas at mid-wicket. Warner was unlucky to be adjudged leg before since the ball pitched outside leg and was hit too high on the pads of the Australian left-hander.
It was left to Finch, the hero of their last match, to repair the innings and he did not disappoint his side by combining well with young Karnataka batsman Rahul.
They timed the ball well, ran hard and hit the odd boundaries in between. Rahul hit Ravindra Jadeja for a massive six, which landed on the roof of the mid-wicket region.
CSK spinner R Ashwin though kept it tight from one end, giving away just seven runs in his two overs as Hyderabad were 65 for two at half-way stage.
Attempting to accelerate, Rahul went for a big shot but his pull off Dwayne Smith went straight to Ishwar Pandey.
Y Venugopal Rao (13) failed to contribute much and was dismissed by Mohit Sharma. Ashwin returned for his last spell and continued to bowl miserly, conceding just 17 runs in his quota of overs, albeit without a wicket.
Image: Dwyane Smith celebrates his half-century