CHENNAI // Robust half-centuries from Mike Hussey and Suresh Raina lead the defending champions Chennai Super Kings to an easy eight-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Hussey (79 not out) and Raina (61) shared a 137-run, second-wicket partnership as Chennai reached the 148 target set them by the Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals with eight balls to spare.
It was Chennai's fourth straight victory and takes them to joint first in the table with the Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, who could retake the lead by beating Pune in the late game at DY Patil Stadium.
Hussey and Raina steadied Chennai's innings to post 73-1 after 10 overs, and then gave Rajasthan's bowlers even more grief.
The left-handed pair took 19 off an over from left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi as the partnership reached the 100-run mark off 66 balls.
Hussey, who smashed one six and eight fours off 55 balls, got to his half-century with two consecutive fours through the off side off medium-pacer Stuart Binny, while Raina ran a single in the same over to complete his 12th IPL 50.
Raina struck one six and three fours off 51 balls but was out with only three needed for the win.
Hussey completed the victory with a well-struck four off Siddharth Trivedi and raised his hands in glee.
"It was very enjoyable batting with Suresh Raina," Hussey said after being named man of the match. "It was a pretty good pitch with the ball coming on to the bat."
Earlier, electing to bat, Rajasthan got off to a solid start through veteran the Rahul Dravid and the Australia all-rounder Shane Watson.
The openers took the score to 86 at the half way stage with Dravid finishing with a neat 66 off 51 deliveries with 10 fours, and Watson making 32 off 26 with five fours.
New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor scored 22 off 14 but others in the middle-order failed to capitalise on the good start with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni using his bowlers well.
Pace bowlers Albie Morkel of South Africa and Doug Bollinger of Australia bowled tight towards the end to restrict the score.
Left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati finished with two wickets including Watson's with a lovely return catch.