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Dhoni hails 'important win' for Chennai Super Kings

The Chennai captain is relieved at beating Pune Warriors by 25 runs with Hussey's 61 making all the difference in a low-scoring IPL game

Michael Hussey, the Super Kings opening batsman, played brilliantly to score 61 against Pune Warriors in Chennai yesterday.
Michael Hussey, the Super Kings opening batsman, played brilliantly to score 61 against Pune Warriors in Chennai yesterday.

There is usually no indication of what goes on in MS Dhoni's head given that he shows little emotion both on and off the field.

Yesterday, however, the Chennai Super Kings captain expressed relief after the defending champions pulled off what was an unlikely 25-run win over Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The game itself ended in a comfortable win for the hosts but it could not have come at a better time, considering the southern Indian franchise had lost three of their five previous games this year.

"This was very important to win. [We] can't afford to lose games in a row," Dhoni said. "Hopefully we can continue the way we are."

The wicketkeeper-batsman has Michael Hussey to thank for that, after the Australian hit 61 off 48 balls to set up a modest target of 143 runs on a slow surface.

The Warriors, though, lost four wickets for 40 and in the end and could reach only 117 for nine against a disciplined bowling from the home side led by Albie Morkel (3-29) and Doug Bollinger (2-20).

Hussey and Murali Vijay, his opening partner, made a steady start with a stand of 64 off 9.1 overs before Alfonso Thomas's double strike pegged the home side back.

Vijay, who survived two run-out chances early on, holed out to Nathan McCullum at mid-on while new man Suresh Raina was bowled through the gate four balls later.

Hussey, who was dropped by Yuvraj Singh on 28, steadied the ship along with Dhoni and brought up his half-century off 42 balls, which also marked the defending champions' 100 in the 16th over.

With Dhoni (26) and Hussey departing in quick succession - dismissed by Rahul Sharma and Jerome Taylor respectively - the hope of a late blitz was dashed.

Subramaniam Badrinath (11 not out) and Srikkanth Anirudha (7) could only stretch the total to 142 for six as Taylor finished with three for 30 with the scalps of Morkel and Anirudha.

Chennai carried forward the momentum when Morkel dismissed Mohnish Sharma, the Pune opener, in the third over to spark a collapse, with three more wickets falling in as many overs.

Ryder, who hit a six off Ravichandran Ashwin, became the off-spinner's first victim from the next ball, which hurried along with the arm and rattled into middle stump.

Manish (eight) was cleaned up by Morkel in the next over and the Warriors were dealt a huge blow when the dangerous Robin Uthappa was bowled around his legs by Ashwin to reduce the IPL newcomers to 40 for four in the sixth over.

Yuvraj and Mithun Manhas took the team to 73 for four after 12 overs, but the required rate had by then climbed to nearly nine per over.

Bollinger ended the 38-run stand by having Manhas (20) caught behind the stumps, by which time it was all too late.

* Compiled by The National staff, with agencies