A sensational bowling effort by Chennai Super Kings saw them defend a modest total as they crushed Royal Challengers Bangalore by 24 runs to regain their position at the top of the table in the Indian Premier League.
Having posted 148/9, CSK bowlers led by Ashish Nehra (3/19 in four overs) and Dwayne Bravo (2/19 in 3.4 overs) exhibited brilliant death over skills to bundle out RCB for 124 in 19.4 overs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Monday.
Such was the dominance of CSK bowlers at the back end of the innings that RCB lost as many as seven wickets for 27 runs in only 5.5 overs.
From a relatively comfortable 97 for three with another 52 runs to get, RCB's slump started when Bravo effected a superb reflex run-out off his own bowling to get rid of opposition skipper Virat Kohli (48 in 44 balls).
Kohli had hit two fours and a six during his knock as he added 63 runs for the fourth wicket with Dinesh Karthik (23) after they were left tottering at 34 for three.
Once Kohli was gone, the procession started, with Karthik being snapped up in the deep off Nehra's bowling in the 15th over. In his very next over, the veteran seamer removed Safaraz Khan (8) and Harshal Patel (0) to take his wickets tally to 17 in the tournament.
Bravo, on his part, bowled an exceptional 18th over with clever change ups and the off-cutters which led to Mitchell Starc playing four dot balls.
Following this win, CSK registered their seventh win in 10 matches. They have 14 points — the same as Rajasthan Royals. But the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side has a better run rate and have also played a game less than Royals. RCB's third place was not affected and they have nine points from as many matches.
Earlier, CSK won the toss and elected to bat. They didn't have a particularly bright start after Dwayne Smith was bowled for zero by Mitchell Starc.
The other opener, Brendon McCullum (20), also departed early after raising hopes of putting together a partnership with Suresh Raina (52).
But Raina, who hit his 25th IPL half-century, remained unperturbed by the setback and scripted a 64-run third-wicket stand with South African Faf du Plessis (24).
The Raina-du Plessis partnership didn't allow the run-scoring momentum to dip. But RCB broke the momentum in the 15th over when pacer Harshal Patel dismissed both du Plessis and Raina.
The twin blow dampened CSK's initiative and they struggled to force the pace from there on, managing to score only 47 runs in the last five overs.
Dhoni (29) unleashed some powerful hits to the fence to get their total close to the 150-run mark. But even his best efforts looked modest as his team lost wickets at regular intervals to manage just an average total.
Dhoni's bowlers, however, performed brilliantly to justify the decision to bat first.