Chennai Super Kings' M Hussey catches Delhi Daredevils Virender Sehwag's shot during their match in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
Through their two title triumphs and their consistent campaigns in the domestic Twenty20 league, the tried and tested formula of consolidation followed by a flurry of shots has rarely let down Chennai Super Kings. Although they have been caught out twice in their own den, and hurt by the shocking defeat against Pune Warriors in the last game, the two-time winners were quick to turn to the man who they left on the bench in that defeat at Chennai.
Mike Hussey, restored to the opener's slot, showed why he remains such a special batsman. The tireless run gatherer has not just shown the patience needed on some of the sluggish sub-continent pitches but has also displayed fitness and the ability to shift gears in the later stages.
On Thursday, the seasoned Aussie played the perfect anchor to remain unbeaten on a 50-ball 66 (6x4, 2x6) that ensured CSK finished on a solid 169 after electing to bat. It was the second half-century in this edition for Hussey, whose 86 not out is also CSK's top-score so far.
The winless and cheerless Delhi Daredevils imploded from there on as a packed audience watched in dismay, capitulating for 83, suffering their sixth straight defeat this season.
South Africa pacer Morne Morkel removed Murali Vijay (18) to end a 30-run opening stand but Suresh Raina (30 — 32b, 5x4) and Hussey shared a 50-ball 60 second-wicket stand. A perfect platform had been laid and MS Dhoni is not someone who would let go of the opportunity. His 23-ball 44 (5x4, 1x6) provided the perfect finishing touch to the innings.
Despite coming close in a couple of matches, Delhi have not looked a cohesive unit. On a pitch that afforded decent bounce, skipper Mahela Jayawardene opened the bowling with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and then kept switching his bowlers around more in hope.
Walking in at number four in the 13th over, Dhoni took charge. But nothing seems to be working for Daredevils. Umesh Yadav, bowling after Sehwag had run in to whisper something in his ears, saw Dhoni's power-packed hit go straight to Ajit Agarkar, but he floored the chance at long-off. On 17 then, the India captain made Delhi pay for it by going after the Delhi spearhead, Morne Morkel.
The South Africa pacer had gone for 23 runs in his first three overs. The 18th over, his final, went for 19. Dhoni smashed him for a straight six and a four before Hussey added two more fours.
Chasing at 8.5 runs an over, Daredevils' top-order proved easy meat for Haryana pacer, Mohit Sharma. David Warner played on one that bounced a fair bit as he tried to play towards point. Manprit Juneja (2) lasted three deliveries before Sharma netted Sehwag, who failing to clear a hoick over midwicket to give an easy catch to Hussey on the fence.