Suresh Raina smashed a quickfire half-century while skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni produced a belligerent unbeaten knock of 63 as Chennai Super Kings held their nerves to pull off a narrow 12-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their Champions League T20 match in Ranchi.
Chasing a daunting 203-run target, Darren Sammy fought cramp and the charged-up opposition to score an attacking 25-ball 50 while skipper Shikhar Dhawan hit a 34-ball 48 top of the order but their efforts proved short in the end.
Sammy looked determined not to go down without a fight but the pressure of mounting run-rate weighed heavily on Sunrisers as they finished at 190 for seven.
Sent in to bat, Raina’s 57-ball 84 was perfectly matched by Dhoni’s pyrotechnics as the hard-hitting local skipper broke the spirits of the Sunrisers bowlers with his ruthless batting display to propel Chennai Super Kings to a massive 202 for four.
Such was the brutality as neither speed nor spin provided any challenge to Dhoni as he decorated his 19-ball knock with an astonishing eight sixes.
There was no mistaking the impact Dhoni’s arrival had on the innings and no one could better understand it than Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera, who was smashed for five huge sixes in the 18th over.
Dhoni, in the process, also struck the fastest fifty in the history of the Champions League, reaching the landmark in just 16 balls and surpassing West Indian Kieron Pollard’s record (50 off 18 balls).
Dhoni played a leader’s innings of the finest order and, together with Raina, put on a 60-run partnership in just 23 balls for the fourth wicket. The last five overs produced 76 runs for the CSK.
Before Dhoni’s arrival, the show belonged entirely to Raina and his powerful stroke-play.
Walking in to bat after the dismissal of opener Murali Vijay, Raina unleashed an assault on the Sunrisers pacers in the middle part of the innings, launching them over the mid-wicket and long-off boundaries with consummate ease.
Raina walked back to the pavillion in the penultimate over after decorating his innings with nine fours and a six.
Steyn was the most economical bowler for Sunrisers with a figure of two for 23 while Perera went for 60 runs from his three overs.
Sunrisers needed a solid start to their run-chase and their openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel, did just that as both made the most of the fielding restrictions to take the team past 50-mark in 5.2 overs.
Both showed the right intent as they went after the CSK frontline bowlers from the start and pierced the gaps well.
Dhawan should thank his stars as he was dropped on 35 by Jason Holder off Albie Morkel.
Sunrisers got another reprieve when Patel was caught by Mohit Sharma off Holder at deep fine leg only for the square-leg umpire to call it a no-ball due to its height.
Sunrisers reached 89 for 0 in nine overs, needing another 116 runs in 11 overs.
Dhoni, who always goes with his gut feeling and doesn’t like to be too planned, introduced the man-of-the-moment, Raina into the attack and the move immediately paid rich dividends.
The part timer first effected a run-out off his own bowling to send back Patel for a 28-ball 38 and break the 88-run partnership for the opening wicket.
Raina then cleaned up J P Duminy for a golden duck to leave Sunrisers stutter at 90 for two in 10 overs.
Sunrisers’ run-chase suffered a body blow when Dhawan failed to cash in on the dropped chance and was caught behind by Dhoni off R Ashwin after a well-made 48. Dhawan hit seven fours and one six in his 34-ball knock.
Sunrisers faltered in their chase as they lost Thisara Perera for 12 with scoreline reading 107 for four.
All hopes rested with big-hitting West Indian Sammy and he did his reputation no harm with three huge sixes off Ravindra Jadeja’s first over to somewhat put the run-chase back on track.
But, his departure in the 19th over effectively shut the doors on Sunrisers.
Earlier, South African speed merchant Steyn drew the first blood for Sunrisers when he removed opener Vijay for a golden duck. Dhawan’s ploy to introduce part-timer Duminy early on into the attack bore fruit as he dismissed Mike Hussey for 21-ball 23 in the seventh over.
Raina continued where he left off in the game against Titans and chipped in with occasional boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Next man-in, S Badrinath ably supported Raina in his pursuit for quick runs and ran singles and twos hard.
Raina again looked in prime form and reached his fifty in just 38 balls with the help of six fours.
Raina was dropped by Hanuma Vihari at deep midwicket off Perera. The left-hander continued his onslaught as he hit Sammy for a six and two fours in the 14th over.
Dhawan brought Duminy back into the attack and the off-spinner had Badrinath caught at long on by Steyn for 13.
There was a huge cheer from the crowd when Dhoni walked out in the middle and he thanked the crowd for the reception with a delightful innings.