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Chennai make it to the semis

By beating Hyderabad by 7 wickets, the Chennai team oust Mumbai out of the semi-finals contention, reports Arjun Sen.

cricket Updated: May 28, 2008 02:04 IST
Arjun Sen

It just keeps getting worse, doesn't it?

Just when one thought Hyderabad couldn't fare any worse than they already have in the IPL, they outdo themselves in the last match.

Continuing their woeful run at home, Hyderabad crashed to their seventh straight loss, this time to Chennai, to finish the competition just as they had started - with a defeat.

Batting first, the hosts could only manage 147/8, a score that was never expected to seriously challenge the Chennai batting. And that is exactly how it panned out, as M.S. Dhoni's boys completed the semifinal line-up with a 7-wicket win, with four deliveries to spare.

Almost all the Chennai batsmen chipped in with valuable contributions in their chase, with Suresh Raina (54) and Albie Morkel (12) staying in the middle when the winning runs were hit. It was yet another disappointing show from the home bowlers, with none of them being able to maintain consistent pressure on the opposition.

In the end, it was the 55-run partnership between Dhoni (37) and Raina that but ended the game as a contest and take Chennai to the brink of a win. A win that was brought up with a beautiful straight six by Raina.

It never looked like it would be Hyderabad's day, and there was a conspicuous sense of déjà vu about their innings. The big bats came and went within no time, digging an all too familiar hole for their team. The onus was, yet again, on Venugopal Rao to dig his team out of that hole.

Rao has been the lone ranger for his team in a lot of matches now, but on Sunday finally found an able aide in young Dwaraka Ravi Teja. The duo showed remarkable character to take the fight back to Chennai.

Teja, in particular, was striking the ball with a lot of authority and power. With Rao not his usual ebullient self on the day, and finding it a little difficult to get the boundaries, it was Teja who took the responsibility of getting the big shots.

Teja's 40 came of only 28 balls and was embellished with four hits to the fence, and one into the stands. He put on a 76-run partnership with Rao (46 off 46) to help push the score as high as they could. However, both Teja and Rao fell off consecutive balls as Chennai scuppered the hosts' hopes of a last-minute blitz.

So, finally the pain ends for Hyderabad. The IPL has been a sorry, sorry tale for this team and this performance would have just made it worse.