Pune: Suresh Raina worked his way to a superb 63 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni played an explosive 16-ball 45-run knock as Chennai Super Kings strengthened their position at the top of the table with a 37-run win over Pune Warriors in an IPL match here on Tuesday.
Raina anchored the innings with his 50-ball knock and skipper Dhoni provided the late fireworks as Chennai overcame a slow start to post a challenging 164 for three.
Paceman Mohit Sharma then rocked the Pune top-order in a fiery spell in which he dismissed Aaron Finch (15), T Suman (0) and Yuvraj Singh (5) from which the hosts never recovered and managed just 127 for nine.
Finch was caught behind and Suman was trapped in successive balls in Mohit’s first over. He returned to scalp Yuvraj. Raina’s electric fielding resulted in run out of Robin Uthappa (10) which left the hosts reeling at 43 for four inside fifth over.
As if that was not enough, Luke Wright was run out in an unfortunate manner when Steve Smith played a solid straight drive but the ball touched Albie Morkel’s foot before hitting the stumps and Wright was caught out of crease.
A terrible mix up meant that Abhihek Nayar too was runout. Smith handed back a simple catch to Ravindra Jadeja a few overs later and with that wicket Pune were on their way to their eighth defeat from 10 matches.
Earlier, Raina showed a lot of maturity while batting as he did the spade work along with S Badrinath (34) while Dhoni batted amazingly in his side’s remarkable recovery later on.
After losing Michael Hussey (5) and Wriddhiman Sahara (13) early, Raina and Badrinath steadied the ship with a 75-run stand for the third wicket. But it was 61-run unbeaten partnership between Raina and Dhoni for the fourth wicket that spoilt all the good work Pune bowlers had done earlier.
It rained fours and sixes when Dhoni batted as Chennai collected 50 runs in the last four overs. Dhoni punished hapless bowlers with seven boundaries including three sixes, the last one coming off the last ball. Raina helped himself with five fours and a six.
Pune though began the contest well as young Australian paceman Kane Richardson and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar bowled a fiery spell in the beginning to subdue the dangerous visitors. Richardson knocked over Hussey in his third ball to give his side a rousing start.
Such ferocious was the attack that it took other opener Saha nine balls to get off the mark. The stumper though hit Richardson for a straight six and a four through cover region in the fifth over to break the shackles.
Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma, too was impressive, as he was not only economical but also trapped Saha (13) to give Chennai the second blow. The visitors were 29 for 2 in six overs.
Encouraged by the pace-friendly pitch, skipper Aaron Finch smartly rotated Ashok Dinda, Abhishek Nayar and Kumar as Raina and Badrinath took some time to settle.
Pune fielders were sharp in the field but Luke Wright failed to latch on to a mistimed pull by Raina at short-midwicket in the ninth over. The duo took Chennai 102 for 2 in 15 overs before Badrinath holed out in deep to Steven Smith off Wright. But he had done his job well, setting the stage for onslaught in the concluding overs.
Dhoni arrived at the wicket and straight away hit Wright for a four and a six and then treated Dinda with similar disdain. Meanwhile, Raina completed his fifty but it was Dhoni’s blistering knock that took Chennai past 150-run mark.