Chennai qualify for playoffs
Chennai - A superb performance by their spin trio catapulted the Chennai Super Kings to the top of the IPL log and a victory by 11 runs against the Kochi Tuskers Kerala in the MA Chidhambaram Stadium at Chepauk, Chennai, on Wednesday.
A late onslaught by Brad Hodge (51, 42 balls, 3x4, 2x6) gave the Tuskers, who were chasing the total of 152/6 scored by Chennai, some hope.
He slammed 19 runs in the penultimate over, bowled by Dwayne Bravo, to leave the Tuskers the target of another 19 for victory.
Hodge benefited from a dropped catch by Murali Vijay, who put down a sitter with the Australian on 19.
He nearly made Vijay pay, slamming two sixes and a four in the 19th over.
But Doug Bollinger bowled an excellent final over, only allowing Hodge and Owais Shah seven runs as they were limited to 141/5 in their 20 overs.
But it was the master plan by the captain, MS Dhoni, and fine bowling by Ravi Ashwin (1/16 in four overs), Shadab Jakati (1/23 in four) and Suresh Raina (0/26 in four overs) that set up the victory.
On a slow, turning track, Ashwin and the other two spinners frustrated the big-hitting Brendon McCullum and Hodge in the middle overs.
In the nine overs between the eighth and the 17th over, only one boundary was scored by the Tuskers, a testimony to the clever variations and intelligent low trajectory spin bowling by Chennai.
The ball was hardly given air, denying the Tuskers the opportunity to loft the ball over mid-off or long-on.
McCullum was bowled by Jakati in the 14th over for 33 with the score on 83/3. The New Zealand opener faced 37 deliveries and only scored three boundaries, an indication of how Ashwin, Jakati and Raina thwarted the boundary-hitters.
Parthiv Patel was the first to depart when he mistimed a drive over mid-on and was caught by Albie Morkel off Ashwin for six.
Y Gnaneswara Rao perished when he was bamboozled by a slower delivery from Bravo and was caught and bowled for 19 (17 balls, 2x4) as the Tuskers slipped to 45/2 in the seventh over.
Bravo captured 1/36, while Bollinger finished with 1/38 in four overs.
Javindra Jadeja was excellently caught at deep square-leg by Raina off Bollinger for 19 off the final delivery of the 18th over with the score on 115/4.
The earlier pressure by the spinners left Hodge, Jadeja and Shah with too much to do in the final three overs, as they had to score 50 off 18 balls to get them home.
The result effectively means that the Tuskers are eliminated from the title-race.
Earlier, RP Singh and the two spinners, Jadeja (2/26) and Hodge (1/24), did a very good job in restricting the power-hitters of Chennai to 152/6.
Wriddhiman Saha (46, 33 balls, 1x4, 3x6) and Albie Morkel (13, 10 balls, 2x4) scored 51 runs in the final five overs, propelling Chennai to 152/6.
At a stage it looked as if they would have been limited to 140, but the final two overs yielded 25 runs, which was crucial to the final outcome.
The top-order faltered against the determined Singh and the spinners.
Vijay (16, 11 balls, 3x4), Raina (19, 13 balls, 1x4, 2x6) and Subramaniam Badrinath (13, 10 balls, 1x4) failed to impose themselves on the attack, and found the lack a pace to be a frustrating factor.
Even Michael Hussey, who had scored 393 prior to his knock of 32 (37 balls, 2x4) on Wednesday, found the going tough against the spinners.
Chennai’s execution was below-par, and they slammed at least two full tosses and a half-volley down the throat of boundary fielders.
The average first-innings score at the Chennai-headquarters is 161, but Dhoni was able to defend the total successfully, thanks to his trusted allies, Ashwin, Jakati and Raina.
Hussey played a pivotal role with his acrobatic fielding, and so did the rest of the team.
With the exception of Vijay, who was too casual when he dropped Hodge on19, Chennai excelled in the field.
Chennai Super Kings:
M Vijay, MEK Hussey, SK Raina, MS Dhoni (captain & wk), JA Morkel, S Badrinath, DJ Bravo, WP Saha, R Ashwin, DE Bollinger, SB Jakati
Kochi Tuskers Kerala:
BB McCullum, OA Shah, BJ Hodge, KM Jadhav, PA Patel (captain & wk), RA Jadeja, Y Gnaneswara Rao, R Vinay Kumar, M Muralitharan, RP Singh, S Sreesanth