Dharamsala: Chennai Super Kings on Sunday blazed into the IPL semifinals with a sensational late blitzkrieg by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking them to a six-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab.
Chasing a huge 193 for a win, Dhoni cracked a 29-ball unbeaten 54 with a late flourish of fours and sixes to take his side to victory with two balls to spare in a high scoring thriller at the HPCA Stadium.
Needing 16 runs from the last over, the Chennai captain hit a hapless Irfan Pathan for 18 runs with the help of two sixes and a four to take his side’s score to 195 for four in 19.4 overs.
Dhoni, who ended the match in style with a six, was dropped in the previous over bowled by Juan Theron when on 32, Pathan being the culprit.
Dhoni struck five fours and two sixes in his blistering innings sharing 47 runs from three overs in their unfinished fifth wicket with Albie Morkel (eight-ball 14). S Badrinath (53 in 36 balls ) and Suresh Raina (46 in 27 balls) were the other main contributors for Chennai.
With Sunday’s win, Chennai ended their league engagements with 14 points from as many matches with a net run rate of plus 0.274. They have assured a semifinal spot in the tournament.
Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni play a shot during the IPL T20 match against Kings XI Punjab in Dharamshala on Sunday. Manvender Vashist/PTI
Earlier, put into bat, Punjab piled up a big 192 for three, thanks to a breezy 99-run unbeaten fourth wicket partnership between Shaun Marsh (88) and Pathan (44).
Chennai suffered two quick losses in the beginning of their run chase when off-spinner Ramesh Powar removed Murali Vijay (13) and his opening partner Matthew Hayden (5) cheaply.
Hayden departed in the third over after failing to read a Powar turner and gave a catch to Punjab wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara and then Vijay, who hit two fours during his brief 11-ball stay, was found short of the crease by the Sri Lankan.
Raina then teamed up with Badrinath when Chennai was struggling at 27 for two after the fourth over and the duo added 62 runs, before the former was removed by Juan Theron in the 10th over. Raina cracked five fours and three sixes.
After the dismissal of Raina, Badrinath, who hit seven fours and two sixes, and Dhoni tried to accelerate run-rate and added 59 runs for the fourth wicket partnership.
When the team was cruising towards the target, spinner Piyush Chawla struck in the 17th over by scalping Badrinath. But after that Dhoni and Morkel took Chennai home with some batting pyrotechnics.
For Punjab, Powar took two wickets for 28 runs, while Chawla and Theron bagged one each.
Chennai Super Kings
M Vijay st Kumar Sangakkara b Ramesh Powar 13
M Hayden ct Kumar Sangakkara b Ramesh Powar 5
S Raina ct Karan Goel b Juan Theron 46
S Badrinath st Kumar Sangakkara b Piyush Chawla 53
M Dhoni not out 54
A Morkel not out 14
S Jakati - -
D Bollinger - -
S Tyagi - -
J Kemp - -
R Ashwin - -
Total: 195 / 4 19.4 overs
Kings XI Punjab
M Jayawardene ct Sudeep Tyagi b Albie Morkel 21
S Marsh not out 88
K Sangakkara b R Ashwin 33
Y Singh lbw Suresh Raina 1
I Pathan not out 44
K Goel - -
J Theron - -
R Powar - -
V Singh - -
P Chawla - -
S Sohal - -
Total: 192 / 3 20 overs