Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chennai enter semis, ends Mumbai's IPL dream

Captain MS Dhoni hits a shot straight over the bowler's head for a six

Chennai Super Kings grabbed the last available semifinal spot in the Indian Premier League after beating Deccan Chargers by seven wickets in their last league match in Hyderabad today (May 27).

Chasing 148 to win, the visitors overhauled the modest target with four balls to spare, thanks to sensible batting by Suresh Raina (54 not out) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (37).

The Chennai team not only sealed a semifinal place for themselves they also broke the heart of Sachin Tendulkar led Mumbai Indians team, which is now out of the tournament.

A lose of Chennai today and a Mumbai win tomorrow against Bangalore Royal Challengers would have enabled Mumbai to enter the last-four stage of the tournament. Now Mumbai's last league match has been rendered inconsequential.

Dhoni played some blistering shots in his 25 ball knock which included four fours and one six and shared a crucial 55-run stand with Raina for the third wicket. Skipper's fall brought Albie Morkel on the crease and he together with Raina saw their team home, though some tight bowling at death made the encounter interesting.

Pragyan Ojha had Dhoni caught in deep by Gibbs and that put brakes on run-flow.

Chennai required 17 runs off the last two overs. RP Singh bowled the penultimate over, which fetched the visitors 10 runs.Raina hit Vjaykumar for a six on the second ball of the last over to seal the victory for his team and also brought up his half-century. Raina consumed 43-balls for his brilliant 54-run innings, adorned with five boundaries and two shots over the fence.

P Vijay Kumar drew the first blood when he dismissed former Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming (14) but the hosts could build on the early success as Parthiv Patel and Suresh Raina did not give them any chance.Fleming went for an extravagant shot outside the off-stump but ended up in the gloves of Adam Gilchrist behind the wickets.

Raina played some elegant shots on the off-side and together with Patel put up 34-runs for the second wicket before the Gujarati batsman walked back.Patel hit straight to Shahid Afridi at covers to become the victim of P Sravesh Kumar.Earlier, a heroic 76-run fourth-wicket partnership between Y Venugopal Rao and D Ravi Teja propelled Deccan Chargers to 147 for eight. Rao (46) and Teja (40) joined hands when their team was stuttering at 57 for three, after deciding to bat on a good batting pitch. Only Rao and Teja batted with guile and grit as all other batsmen struggled to find rhythm and big hitters like Hershelle Gibbs (8) and Shahid Afridi (1) disappointed once again.Rao's 46-ball knock, which included three fours and one six, was mixture of aggression and caution while Teja was furious right from the word go. Teja hit four fours and a six in his 28-ball knock.

Once the duo departed, the hosts wickets fell one after another as they crumbled under pressure of putting up a big total.Gibbs found it tough to negotiate a disciplined pace attack on a bouncy wicket and eventually departed while trying to break the shackles.

The South African slashed one off compatriot Makhaya Ntitni over the point region but only managed a thick edge which was accepted gleefully by L Balaji at third-man.

Skipper Adam Gilchrist (5) perished in the same way when he tried to loft a good length delivery by Manpreet Gony and just managed an outside edge, which flew to third man Abhinav Mukund.Runs were tough to come from the blade as first five overs fetched just 18 runs and that too at the cost of two wickets.

Rao and Scott Styris (20) then steadied the rocking boat by weaving a 39-run stand for the third wicket before the latter was undone by Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan.

Styris, who played some good shots in his short knock, gave charge to Muralithran but missed the line completely and was bowled by Sri Lankan.

All the bowlers from the visiting side kept a tight line until Balaji was hit for 14 runs in the 14th over, which also witnessed first six of the innings.Albie Morkel and Balaji took two-wickets each while Ntini, Goni and Muralitharan claimed one wicket each.

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