Chennai, May 13 The Chennai Super Kings took a decisive step towards the playoffs with an 18-run victory against the Delhi Daredevils in their Indian Premier League match at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here Thursday.
A 96-run partnership between skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (63 not out, 31b, 4 x 6, 5 x 4) and Subramaniam Badrinath (55, 43b, 1 x 6, 6 x 4) powered the Super Kings to 176 for four while the Daredevils were checked to 158 for six despite a promising start and a fighting 46 by Irfan Pathan.
The victory took Super Kings to 16 points from 12 matches and the No.1 spot on the league table while the Daredevils remained on eight also after 12 outings and effectively out of contention for the four-team playoffs.
Incidentally, it was their sixth consecutive win for the Super Kings on home ground this season.
The Super Kings, 73 for three after 11 overs, recovered in a splendid fashion by knocking off 103 runs in the next nine with Dhoni and Badrinath adding 96 runs for the fourth wicket in just 56 balls to take the game away from the Daredevils.
All the good work that the Daredevils had done in the first half of the Super Kings innings counted for nothing in the end overs when Dhoni and Badrinath went hell for leather.
It was this near-century partnership that carried the Super Kings to relative safety when at one stage even a 150 total looked out of bounds.
But then, Dhoni took the game by the scruff of the neck to unleash a blitz that felled the Daredevils. Notably, it was the 19th over that put the hosts in the clear as Ajit Agarkar went for 20 runs with both Dhoni and Badrinath helping themselves to a six apiece.
In fact, the last three overs fetched the Super Kings 50 runs, including 17 in the 20th bowled by Irfan Pathan whose figures were cruelly blown away after a good start that he had earlier in the innings.
Likewise, Aaron too conceded 13 runs in his last over that undid his previous stint when he had batsmen swishing and missing while occasionally generating impressive pace.
In fact, the Super Kings innings never really got into any sort of flow after the first over departure of Michael Hussey (6) while his opening partner Murali Vijay (35) profited on two lives, but was clearly not at his best.
With Suresh Raina (14) also departing without making an impact, the stage was set for the Dhoni-Badrinath rescue act and the duo did it in style.
The Daredevils were not to be left behind early in the chase as first Naman Ojha (25 off 14) set a hot pace before falling to Morkel who went for 17 runs in that over despite taking a wicket.
However, the big-hitting was too good to last as the Super Kings, despite getting slammed for 34 runs in the first three overs, came surging back into the game to take control.
A brilliant diving catch by Dwayne Bravo got rid of Colin Ingram (7) who was beginning to cut loose as the Super Kings gradually took a stranglehold on the game.
David Warner's dismissal in the 10th over by Dwanye Bravo who had the Aussie southpaw caught by Vijay in the deep, effectively diminished Daredevils' hopes of making a match of it, much less win the game.
Although Venugopal Rao (30) and Pathan batted with great determination, the asking rate kept mounting and the pressure eventually told on them.
Rao missed a mighty heave and was bowled by Ashwin in the 16th over and it was virtually curtains for the Daredevils who then lost two more wickets including that of their captain James Hopes, to end up losers.