Chennai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni sent the bowlers on a leatherhunt as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) kept their unbeaten record at Chepauk intact with a comfortable 18-run victory over Delhi Daredevils (DD) in a 12th round IPL encounter on Thursday.
Dhoni smashed his way to an unbeaten 63 off only 31 balls (5x4, 4x6) and along with an equally effective Subramanium Badrinath (55) guided CSK to a formidable 176 for four in 20 overs. With no Virender Sehwag in their line-up, the target was virtually impossible for Daredevils to chase as they managed only 158 for six in 20 overs.
Irfan Pathan scored an unbeaten 46 but that was never going to be enough.
With this win CSK notched up their eighth win in the competition and stretched their unbeaten streak at home to six matches.
The match will however be remembered for the contrasting half-centuries by Dhoni and Badrinath as they added 96 runs for the fourth wicket in only 9.2 overs.
Dhoni clobbered the Daredevils bowlers racing his way to a 28-ball half century. He finished with a flourish hitting Irfan Pathan for consecutive sixes off his final two deliveries. The exhibition of clean hitting reminded one and all Dhoni of the old who had the penchant for taking on the bowlers straightaway.
On the other hand, Badrinath (55, 43 balls, 6x4, 1x6) who is almost a certainty to board the flight to Caribbean did his reputation no harm as he played with lot of precision rotating the strike and punishing the loose deliveries.
The final two overs yielded 37 runs while CSK scored 109 runs off the last 10 overs having scored 67 from the first 10.
For Daredevils who erred by selecting five pacers on a slow track, Ajit Agarkar turned out to be the most expensive bowler leaking 49 runs from four overs while Pathan gave away 40 from his four.
Dhoni started off with a pulled boundary off Ajit Agarkar and then launched into Andrew McDonald for straight six and then helped himself with a boundary. Both Dhoni and Badrinath ran the singles and twos well as they waited for the loose balls.
When Agarkar came back for his second spell, he played an audacious pull-shot and followed it up with a deft scoop past the short fine leg.
The Indian captain moved into the 40’s when patted statemate Varun Aaron’s full-toss straight past the bowler.
The best stroke however remained a lofted shot off Agarkar over extra cover that brought up his second six.
With an able ally in Badrinath who was wise enough to rotate the strike, Dhoni ensured that his side put up another commendable score on a slow Chepauk track.