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Hayden, Dhoni fire Chennai in the rain

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: May 08, 2009 01:22 IST
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It rained at the Centurion on Thursday night, but that couldn't douse the fire in Chennai Super Kings.

Led by a blazing 89 from Matthew Hayden and 56 from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, they posted a mammoth 185 for three in a rain-shortened match and then restricted the opposition to win by 12 runs, via the Duckworth-Lewis method, and take the top spot in the eight-team Indian Premier League table.

Punjab came up with a solid batting display in their bid to chase down the huge total, but ended up with 174 for 3 against a revised target of 187 in 18 overs.

Hayden hit eight boundaries and six sixes in his 58-ball knock and Dhoni smashed seven boundaries and two sixes from 27 deliveries as the two batsmen added 100 runs for the third wicket in just 7.1 overs.

Yuvraj Singh scored a quick 58 from 36 deliveries and Simon Katich 50 from 25 to keep Punjab on course. But Suresh Raina turned the match on its head when he bowled a miserly two-over spell, that cost only eight runs, to check Punjab's progress in the last few overs.

Chennai and Rajasthan have 11 points, but the former takes the top spot on the table because of a better net run-rate..

Chennai innings:

With Murali Vijay out, Chennai sent in Subramaniam Badrinath to open the innings with Matthew Hayden. However, Badrinath fell to the very first delivery of the match. He cut a short delivery from Irfan Pathan straight to VRV Singh at the point boundary and was out for a golden duck. (0-1, 0.1)

Hayden was in no mood to relent despite the early wicket. In the same over, he stepped down the wicket and slammed Pathan for a boundary straight down the ground, and followed it up with another through midwicket off S Sreesanth.

Suresh Raina also seemed in a mad rush. He crashed a full delivery from Pathan in the third over for a straight six and then smashed the next delivery for a boundary through point. In the same over, Raina, on 14, was dropped when he tried another cut short but hit it straight to the point fielder, who could not hold on to the difficult chance.

The India left-hander then welcomed Yusuf Abdulla to the bowling with consecutive boundaries off his first two deliveries to take Chennai to 45 for one after five overs.

Hayden took Chennai past fifty in the sixth over in grand style when he launched VRV Singh with utter disdain high into the stands at long-off.

The Aussie, on 32 from 26 deliveries, also got a reprieve when Kumar Sangakkara missed an easy stumping chance off Karan Goel in the sixth over. He made Punjab pay for that error by smashing Abdulla for a boundary off the next delivery he faced in the seventh over.

The skies above were overcast since the start of the match and, quite predictably, it rained soon enough. Chennai were well placed at 68 for one in 7.3 overs with Hayden on 37 from 28 deliveries (five boundaries, 1 six) and Raina unbeaten on 30 from 16 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries and a six.

Play resumed after ninety minutes and, surprisingly, only four overs were lost, the match being reduced to 18 overs per side and with no strategic time out during Chennai's innings.

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla struck with his first delivery when he claimed the key wicket of the rampaging Raina for 32 from 20 deliveries (4x4, 1x6). The left-hander took on a short delivery but didn't get it off the middle of the bat and ended up holing to Karan Goel at midwicket.

Raina had once again lifted the Chennai innings with a blazing 76-run partnership in just nine overs for the second wicket with Hayden. (76-2, 9.1)

Mahendra Singh Dhoni looked keen to keep the innings moving with an aim to keep the run rate high as a slight drizzle continued. He struck a boundary off Chawla in the 10th over as Chennai raced to 80 for two at the half-way stage and brought up two more boundaries in the next over by Goel.

Hayden then took Chawla to the cleaners, pounding the young leggie for two sixes and a boundary in the 14th over. He danced down the wicket and slammed the third delivery of the over for a huge six over midwicket to bring up his half-century off 44 deliveries. The Australian left-hander then backed it up with a boundary through point and a huge six over square leg off the last ball of the over.

Dhoni matched him stroke to stroke with another huge for Chennai when he smashed VRV Singh for 24 runs in the 15th over courtesy two sixes and two boundaries.

It was Dhoni of old as the Indian captain went hell for leather in the final overs and the bowlers seemed to have no answers.

Sreesanth also suffered the same fate in the 19th over when Hayden smashed him for three sixes in four deliveries. The veteran batsman crashed the first ball over fine leg for a huge six and followed it by another two huge hits through the square leg region.

But he missed out on a deserved century when he fell for 89, caught by Mahela Jayawardene at long-on attempting another big hit. There was no stopping Hayden as he hit eight boundaries and six sixes in his 58-ball knock. (176-3, 17)

Hayden along with the rampaging Dhoni had virtually batted Punjab out of the match with an unbelievable partnership of 100 runs in just 7.5 overs.

Dhoni, meanwhile, brought up his half-century off just 24 deliveries by smashing a full toss from Pathan through the covers for a boundary.

Chennai posted a huge 185 for three in 18 overs, with Dhoni unbeaten on a wonderful knock of 56 from 27 deliveries, inclusive of seven boundaries and two sixes.

There's nothing much to write about the Punjab bowling as none of their bowlers made an impression and suffered from the Chennai batting assault. For the second match in a row, the Punjab bowlers had conceded over 10 runs per over, after the 211 for four they gave away in their last match against the Rajasthan Royals.

Punjab innings

Punjab had no other option to but to go all out. Sunny Sohal took on Albie Morkel in the very first delivery of the innings; his shot flew high over mid-off but Manpreet Gony, running back, failed to judge the flight of the ball.

However, Morkel claimed Sohal (2) with his next delivery. The right-hander backed way towards the leg-side to smash the bowler through the off-side but failed to connect. (2-1, 0.2)

Once again Yuvraj held himself back when he should have come up the order and given his team a boost with a quick knock. Simon Katich also looked to get after the bowlers and smashed Morkel for two boundaries in the third over, but Punjab were not getting the required acceleration.

Katich provided the much-needed boost in the fifth over when he carted Gony for three consecutive sixes. The Aussie left-hander dismissed the first two deliveries through midwicket while the third one was despatched straight down the ground as Punjab raced to 47 for one after five overs.

The introduction of Muttiah Muralitharan, however, restored order for Chennai as the veteran conceded just six runs in his opening over.

The next over was given to Shadab Jakati, Chennai's hero with the ball in the last two matches. The left-arm spinner had surprised everyone with his magnificent start in the IPL, as he claimed eight wickets in two matches at an amazing average of 5.75.

And Jakati's wicket ways continued when he struck with his second ball of the match. Karan Goel stepped down the wicket and tried a big hit straight down the ground but was taken by a juggling Gony at long-on for 14 from 20 deliveries. (53-2, 6.2)

With each tight over the task was becoming nearly impossible for Yuvraj. The Punjab captain took no time to get going as he slog swept Muralitharan for a big six through midwicket.

Punjab reached 68 for two after eight overs and needed to score 120 runs in the last ten. Their desperation meant that they now had to take every bowler to the cleaners.

Jakati, who gave away just four runs in his opening over, suffered when he was hit for 15 in his second. Yuvraj lofted him over the covers for a boundary, while Katich smashed a boundary and six and raced to his half-century off just 24 deliveries.

Katich's adventure was cut short by Laxmipathy Balaji in his first over. He failed to get maximum mileage on a cut shot off a short delivery and ended up hitting it straight to Jakati in the point region. The left-hander was out for a blazing knock of 50 from 25 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries and four sixes. (84-3, 9.1)

Gony somehow managed to take Goel's catch but the second time around he fumbled and grassed an easy catch.

Yuvraj tried to smash Muralitharan straight down the ground but ended up hitting it straight to Gony at long-on, who made a meal of the easy offering and also ended up conceding a boundary.

Even though the match was slipping away from their grasp, the Punjab batsmen continued to put up a brave fight. Jayawardene started off positively and hit Balaji for a boundary and six in the 12th over to race to 21 from nine deliveries with Punjab reaching 115 for three, needing 73 from the last six overs.

He then produced one of the best shots of the match when he danced down the wicket, gave himself room and despatched compatriot Muralitharan for a big six over the cover region.

Slowly but steadily Punjab were getting themselves back in the hunt with some brilliant stroke-play. 45 runs were smashed from three overs as Punjab reached 125 for three, and needed another 63 in the last five overs.

Even Morkel came in for some rough treatment from the Punjab batsmen, who now seemed unstoppable. Yuvraj smashed two boundaries and a six to garner 19 runs from the over and suddenly the target was within reach, 44 needed from the last four overs.

However, Dhoni then produced a masterstroke, bringing on part-timer Raina, who answered the call of duty with a tight four-run over.

That over seemed to have taken the momentum out of Punjab's run chase as even Balaji got things in place in his next over.

Yuvraj raced to his half-century off 28 deliveries, but suddenly the boundaries dried up as Punjab reached 157 for three, needing 30 from the last two overs.

Raina then finished off the match in his second over that fetched Punjab just six runs, leaving them to get 20 from the final over.

Punjab could manage only 11 from the final and finished on 174 for three in 18 overs. They lost the match by 12 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method.

Yuvraj was unbeaten on a magnificent 58 from 36 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries and two sixes. Jayawardene also made a spirited effort in the run chase, hitting 44 from 25 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries and two sixes, as the two batsmen added 90 runs in 8.5 overs.

In the end, Chennai's huge total proved too big a mountain to climb.

Dhoni was brave and his experience of captaining at the top level proved handy. Which other captain would have brought on part-timer Raina at such a crucial juncture, which ultimately turned the game in Chennai's favour.

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Harish Kotian

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