In a brilliant display of batsmanship that mirrored the virtues of energy, efficiency and enterprise, MS Dhoni played the stellar role on steering Chennai Super Kings (CSK)) to its third successive triumph in IPL-12 at the MAC Stadium on Sunday. The eight-run victory over Rajasthan Royals (RR) confirmed the status of the defending champion before a huge, boisterous crowd on the home ground.
Inserted to bat first after Dhoni lost the toss to Rehane the start for CSK was very disturbing. The early batsmen Watson and Rayudu found the bounce and nip a little bit disconcerting. RR courted success quickly and looked comfortably placed at 27 for three when Dhoni and Raina came together to arrest a further collapse. Both the batsmen were circumspect in their approach and the usually hard-hitting Raina was quiet for a long time.
But the need to force the pace after the 10th over was not lost on these two veterans who ventured to accelerate. After a partnership of 67 runs for the fourth wicket Raina left bowled by Unadkat for 36 runs made in 32 balls with four 4s and one 6.
But Dhoni opened up with Bravo to keep company and the pair added some quick runs before the latter was caught by Kulkarni of off Archer the best bowler for the RR team.
Dhoni flourished his inimitable style and plundered runs at will hitting the ball to all corners the ground as Jadeja watched in wonder at the other end. Dhoni remained not out for 75 runs made in 46 balls with four 4s and four 6s.
At 175 for five after 20 overs CSK looked well set for an easy win but that was not the case. Despite losing early wickets and struggling at 14 for three, the visiting team recovered through some gritty resistance by Tripathi and later by Steve Smith and Ben Stokes who made 46 runs in 26 balls with one 4 and three 6s. But spinner Imran Tahir and Bravo arrested the trend and restricted the rivals to 167 for eight in 20 overs.
MS Dhoni was declared the Man of the Match.