A late cameo by skipper MS Dhoni and disciplined bowling helped Chennai Super Kings edge closer to an IPL play-off berth with a 27-run win over Delhi Capitals on Wednesday (10).
Dhoni, who hit a nine-ball 20, put on a key seventh-wicket stand of 38 with Ravindra Jadeja, who hit 21, to steer Chennai to 167-8.
“This is what my job is, I have told them this is what I am supposed to do, don’t make me run a lot and it has been working,” Dhoni said of his role at number eight.
“This is what I need to do, happy to contribute.”
Sri Lankan quick Matheesha Pathirana took three wickets to help limit Delhi to 140-8 as Chennai consolidated their second spot in the 10-team table with seven wins in 12 matches.
The David Warner-led Delhi, who started the season with five losses, remain rooted to the bottom of the standings and all but out of the play-off race.
The top four teams qualify for the play-offs.
Delhi began the chase with left-handed Warner out for a duck on the second ball to Deepak Chahar, who also sent back previous-match winner Phil Salt, for 17.
Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh was run out for five but impact sub Manish Pandey and Rilee Rossouw attempted to revive the chase in their 59-run stand before impact player Pathirana broke through.
“This is the fifth or sixth time we have lost a wicket in the first over,” Warner said after his team’s seventh loss.
“And it was us throwing our wickets away. We lost a wicket to a run-out. We threw wickets away.”
Pathirana, an up and coming Sri Lankan speedster nicknamed “Baby Malinga” for his slinging action similar to former pace ace Lasith Malinga, pinned down Pandey lbw with his trademark yorker and ended with figures of 3-37.
Jadeja took down Rossouw with his left-arm spin to dent the chase and was named man of the match.
Earlier Chennai lost regular wickets before Shivam Dube, who smashed 25 off 12 balls, and Ambati Rayudu, who hit 23, stood out in an attacking stand of 36.
But it was Dhoni and the left-handed Jadeja who took the attack to the opposition with their late blitz that got Chennai 39 runs from the final three overs.
The 41-year-old Dhoni, who many suspect is playing his final IPL as player, raised the noise at a near-capacity crowd with his two sixes off left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed.