There was sudden spring in the steps of the Chennai Super Kings players on Saturday. The bowlers maintained a nagging line and length, every ball was chased and dives put in to stop ones from being converted into twos. And later, the batting flourished for the first time. It was in the last home match of the season that CSK finally came alive. In between, the defending champions had barely managed to hang on in their fight for the play-offs.
Everyone expected fireworks from Delhi Daredevils. After all, DD boast of the most lethal batting line-up, but it was the CSK bowlers who dominated. To stop an in-from batting line-up, CSK needed to be spot on and Aussie speedster Ben Hilfenhaus was right on the money. He took off right from where he had left in Jaipur. His three wickets in the first six overs meant the Daredevils innings never took off.
Hilfenhaus first removed Virender Sehwag with a peach of a delivery that moved late after pitching and later accounted for David Warner to leave DD tottering at 12 for 2. He later accounted for Naman Ohja, another in-from batsmen, to expose the middle and lower order.
Had Yogesh Nagar not played a cameo of 44 runs, the match would have been a no contest. Venugopal Rao (27) and Irfan Pathan (13) were the other two batsmen who managed to reach double figures.
Chasing 114, Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay showed no nerves. The duo played freely with Hussey taking the lead in scoring. He carved Morne Morkel for two successive fours and carted Varun Aaron for a six of his very first ball, in the sixth over. Later Vijay took over. The Tamil Nadu opener, who is gradually finding his touch, scored his highest of the season to remain 48 not out.
The win means CSK have kept alive their hopes of making it to the play-offs while DD will hope this was only an occasion when the law of averages caught with the team.
CSK skipper MS Dhoni, for whom everything just fell into place from the start, will take a lot of positives from this match as he prepares to face another top team of the league, Kolkata Knight Riders, next.