Dwayne Bravo kept Chennai Super Kings' ambitions of a third successive Indian Premier League on track last night as he hit a six off the last ball of the match to secure victory against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Chennai had gone into the last over of their chase of 159 requiring nine to win.
But the dismissal of MS Dhoni, the Chennai captain, bowled by Rajat Bhatia for 28, left them on the backfoot, and Ravindra Jadeja and Bravo struggled to score, leaving five needed off the last ball.
Bhatia, who had been so accurate all over, bowled a rare full toss, and Bravo took full advantage to hit over the long on for a maximum to spark the celebrations among the Chennai team as they ran on to congratulate their teammate.
The result leaves them in fourth place in the table, but with a two-point lead over Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have only two games remaining, and three points over both the Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.
Michael Hussey (56) and Murali Vijay (36) had given Chennai the perfect start with their rapid opening stand of 97, and Dhoni said his side should not have made things so difficult for themselves after they had gone from being ahead of the run rate to requiring 27 off the last two overs.
"Games like this are difficult, we were cruising till the 11th over," he said.
"We saw what happened to their innings, we should have learnt from those mistakes, had it not been for Bravo's last-ball six, we would have lost."
Kolkata had looked on track for a sizeable score after openers Gautam Gambir (62) and Brendon McCullum (37) had raced to 99 without loss inside the first 11 overs.
But then the wheels fell off the innings as both fell within four balls of each other and Chennai took advantage to not only slow Kolkata's run rate but also continue taking wickets.
Five wickets fell for 29 runs and it took two late sixes from Debabrata Das (19 off 10 balls) to get them up 158 for five in the end, which ultimately proved to be not enough to deny Chennai the victory.
Gambhir, the Kolkata captain, regretted not having enough spin options in his bowling attack.
"I can say maybe another spinner would have helped, but you go into the game thinking that the attack you choose can do the job you do."
Elswehere, an unbroken stand of 122 between Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard saw the Mumbai Indians produce a stunning fightback to leave the Royal Challengers Bangalore facing a tough fight to finish in the top four in the Indian Premier League.
Mumbai’s hopes of victory in a rain-delayed clash looked bleak when they slumped to 51 for five in pursuit of Bangalore’s total of 171 for six. But Rayudu (81 not out) and Pollard (52 not out) held their composure and kept Mumbai in the hunt going into the closing overs of the match.
Rayudu blasted two sixes and a boundary of the 17th over, bowled by Vinay Kumar, as the pair increased the run rate and left themselves requiring 14 off the last over.
Virat Kohli, the Bangalore captain, made the bold choice of going with spin for the last six balls as Chris Gayle stepped up.
The risk did not pay off as Pollard hit the second ball over midwicket for a six before striking two successive boundaries to complete a stunning run chase.
Harbhajan Singh’s side would have felt they were chasing too big a target in the first place after allowing Bangalore to escape from being 87 for four.
Big hitting from Mayank Agarwal (64 not out off 30 balls) got them up to 171 for six, but that would prove to be not enough.
Bangalore are now faced with having to beat the Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers in their final two games to have a chance of making the play-offs.
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