Opting to bat, Shikhar Dhawan scored a sedate 47-ball 51 but Dwayne Bravo scalped three wickets in no time to restrict Delhi to 147 for 6 in their 20 overs. In reply, Chennai got the job done in 19.4 overs to claim their second victory in as many games.
Chennai seamers - Deepak Chahar (1 for 20) and Shardul Thakur - came with a simple ploy of bowling straight to Prithvi Shaw (16-ball 24) but it was still not enough to stop the 19-year-old right-hander. It all started with a pull towards deep square leg before Shaw smashed his statemate Thakur for three consecutive fours in different parts of the ground.
Just when it looked like it could be his night, Shaw mistimed a pull off Chahar's bowling and handed a simple catch to Shane Watson at mid-wicket. MS Dhoni even tried Harbhajan Singh for a couple of overs inside powerplay but the offspinner wasn't as effective as he was in the last game.
Both Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer took time to settle in and that allowed Dhoni to complete Chahar's full quota of overs. Once the field was spread, Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan managed to keep a lid on scoring rate. Iyer and Dhawan finally opened their shoulders against Imran Tahir, hitting him for a maximum and two fours before the former was trapped right in front of the stumps off a slider by the leggie.
Coming in at No. 4, Delhi's last match hero, Rishabh Pant announced his arrival with a boundary towards the cover region. The left-hander kept throwing his bat at everything and managed to get the better of Harbhajan and Dwayne Bravo a couple of times. Having been smashed for 17 runs in his first over, Bravo struck two crucial blows in his very next over. The Trinidadian first had Pant caught at deep square leg for 13-ball 25 before outfoxing Colin Ingram for just 2 with his trademark slower delivery.
It was Jadeja who looked best among other spinners and the left-armer ended his spell (1 for 23) by knocking over Keemo Paul for nought with a ripper. With wickets falling at the other end, Dhawan played the role of anchor to perfection and brought up his fifty. However, he failed to up the ante and became Bravo's third victim, offering a dolly to Thakur at deep square leg.
Rahul Tewatia (11*) and Axar Patel (9*) managed a couple of boundaries to get Delhi closer to the 150-run mark but it was the visiting side that dominated the last five overs, picking up four wickets at the cost of 29 runs.
Chennai needed a decent start from their openers and Shane Watson looked aggressive from the word go. Despite having struggled against Axar Patel in the past, Watson welcomed him with a couple of boundaries, but it was Ishant Sharma who gave Delhi the first breakthrough. Despite Watson taking the attack to Delhi bowlers, Ambati Rayudu (5) ran down the track and offered a needless heave, only to end up mistiming it to Iyer at mid-off.
Things slowly started to heat up between Watson and Delhi pacers. Both Ishant and Kagiso Rabada kept going after Watson but that only charged the big-hitting all-rounder. He managed a four and a six off Rabada before tonking Amit Mishra for two sixes. The legspinner, however, got his revenge and had Watson stumped for 26-ball 44, studded with four fours and three sixes.
By the time Watson departed, the run rate had dropped below six runs per over but that didn't stop Suresh Raina from playing his shots. The No. 3 batsman hit Ishant for three successive boundaries to make his intention very clear, and alongside Kedar Jadhav kept the scoreboard moving at good pace. The left-handed batsman was dismissed by Mishra for 16-ball 30, but by then the equation had dropped to 50 off 58.
The scenario was tailor-made for Jadhav and Dhoni (35-ball 32*) and the two focused on ones and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking. With 23 required in the final four overs, Axar bowled a terrific over to Dhoni and gave away just one run. Dhoni, however, managed 11 runs off the very next over to release some pressure.
Iyer took a brave call of handing Mishra the 19th over but the move backfired as the calm-headed Dhoni tonked one over the head of the bowler to bring the equation down to two off one over. Jadhav was caught behind for 27 but Bravo pulled one towards backward square leg to push Chennai over the line.
First Published: March 27, 2019, 7:50 AM IST