Gautam Gambhir hit an unbeaten half-century to guide Delhi Daredevils to a six-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League match in Chennai on Thursday.
In a low-scoring encounter, played under hot and humid conditions, Delhi kept their cool in a tense run chase to post 113 for four in 18.4 overs and inch closer to the semi-finals.
Gambhir ended his run of poor scores as he led from the front with a fighting innings of 57 from 56 balls, having hit four boundaries. The Delhi captain was involved in an unbroken stand of 75 runs in 70 deliveries for the fifth wicket with Mithun Manhas, who scored 25 from 32 balls.
Delhi were off to a poor start as they were reduced to six for three by the second over, with Doug Bollinger claiming two wickets in his first over before Gambhir carried the team home.
Earlier, Ashish Nehra took three wickets to restrict Chennai Super Kings to 112 for nine in their 20 overs.
Electing to bat, Chennai's batsmen failed to live upto expectations and lost wickets at regular intervals. S Badrinath top-scored with 30 from 29 balls, adding vital runs at the end with Doug Bollinger (16 not out) to take Chennai past the 100-run mark after they were reeling at 77 for eight at one stage.
Nehra was the most successful bowler, claiming three for 26, while Virender Sehwag claimed two for 18 in four overs.Chennai Super Kings:
The struggling Matthew Hayden got an early lifeline when he was dropped by Gautam Gambhir even before he scored a run, in the first over from Dirk Nannes.
However, he did not make the most of the reprieve and was caught in the covers off Ashish Nehra in the next over for one.
Chennai were dealt another big blow in the next over when captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni pulled a short delivery from Nannes straight to Mithun Manhas at square leg and was dismissed for a duck.
Murali Vijay also fell to the bouncer when he top-edged an intended pull shot against Nehra and was taken by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps for 17.
Suresh Raina tried to lift the gloom and hit Umesh Yadav for two boundaries, through the covers and over mid-on, in the fifth over.
The first six overs went according to script for Delhi as Chennai made just 39 runs, losing three wickets in the process.
Raina, who had scored 15 from 19 balls, then gave his wicket away with a needless shot under the circumstances. The left-hander tried to play the inside-out lofted shot against Dilshan but ended up holing out to Yadav at deep cover.
The wickets continued to tumble as Virender Sehwag claimed a couple in his second over. Hussey hit one straight to Dilshan at cover and was out for 15; a few deliveries later Albie Morkel (1) was brilliantly caught by Paul Collingwood at first slip.
Chennai then threw away a wicket. R Ashwin (6) was run-out by a direct hit from Amit Mishra at long-on as he went for a second run. The leg-spinner then claimed a wicket with the first ball of his next over when he trapped Lakshmipathy Balaji leg before wicket for three as he tried to play the sweep.
Doug Bollinger broke the shackles, slamming Dilshan for a straight six in the 18th over, the first boundary after a long wait of 63 deliveries.
Subramaniam Badrinath struggled to find the boundaries in the closing overs before he hit Nannes over midwicket for his first. e scored another couple of boundaries in the last over from Nehra before he was dismissed off the final delivery of the innings.
Badrinath top-scored with 30 from 28 balls, while Bollinger finished unbeaten on 16,as Chennai posted a paltry 112 for nine in their 20 overs.
Nehra finished as the most successful bowler, with three for 26, while Sehwag took two for 18.
Chennai got off to a perfect start with the ball, as they claimed three wickets in the first two overs.
R Ashwin struck in the first over of the innings, having David Warner caught in the covers for a duck.
Doug Bollinger then got the wicket of Virender Sehwag, who was caught by Matthew Hayden at first slip for four as he lashed at a wide delivery.
Tillakaratne Dilshan was beaten by the incoming delivery, which he inside edged it back on to his stumps, and was out for one as Delhi were reduced to seven for three after two overs.
Gambhir got the first boundary of the match when he charged down the wicket to Ashwin but got a thick edge that went to the thirdman region, in the third over.
Dinesh Karthik got his first boundary by hitting Bollinger through midwicket to take the total to 33 for three after six overs.
Left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati struck in his first over, when he got the wicket of Dinesh Karthik, who was caught at midwicket for 13, attempting to play the pull shot.
Interestingly, Delhi managed to hit just two boundaries in the first ten overs as they reached 56 for four at the halfway stage.
Slowly but steadily Mithun Manhas and Gambhir repaired the damage as they kept taking the singles and twos to keep the scoreboard moving.
Manhas then hit an important boundary when he swept Ashwin over midwicket, while Gambhir slammed a short delivery for another four in the over to also bring up the 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Raina also suffered in his third over when he was hit for a couple of boundaries to take Delhi past the 100-run mark in the 17th over.
The Delhi captain ended his run of poor scores when he pulled Bollinger to bring up his half-century from 51 deliveries.
It was Gambhir who hit the winning runs when he took a double off Morkel to give Delhi a deserved six-wicket victory.
Gambhir showed great maturity and kept his cool under pressure to finish unbeaten on 57 from 56 balls as Delhi were home at 113 for four in 18.4 overs.
The left-hander was involved in a crucial unbeaten partnership of 75 runs in 70 balls with Mithun Manhas, who brought all his experienced into play in a composed innings of 25 from 32 balls.
Bollinger gave Chennai hope as he took two for 24 in four overs, while Ashwin took one for 24, but Delhi found it easy against the other bowlers in the middle overs.
Delhi have inched closer to the semi-finals as they jumped to third in the standings with 14 points from 13 games, while Chennai can still make it to the last four, with 12 points from 13 matches.