x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Dhoni's grace under fire sees Chennai home

Chasing 193 to win the game and reach the last four for the third consecutive time, MS Dhoni steps up to fire the Super Kings to victory against Punjab.

MS Dhoni hit two sixes and a four in the last over to take Chennai to the semi-finals.
MS Dhoni hit two sixes and a four in the last over to take Chennai to the semi-finals.

After knocking two balls out of the park, MS Dhoni walked down the pitch menacingly and screamed at the top of his voice before giving himself an upper cut. That was a side hardly seen of the India captain, but after taking Chennai Super Kings to the semi-finals virtually single-handedly, an emotional Dhoni could not stop himself from a bit of professional wrestling-style celebrations.

"It was a very emotional moment," said Dhoni (54 not out) in a post-match television interview after the six-wicket win. "Your franchises, they pay such an amount of money for you. So at least you are supposed to qualify for the semi-finals. "I feel it's the team that takes you to the semi-final. After that, it is a lottery system. One player from the opposition has a brilliant game and you lose, but that's fine.

"The kind of team we are, the kind of franchise we've got, I think we should have qualified for the semi-finals before this game. But at last we did, so it was a very emotional moment for me." Chasing 193 to win the game and reach the last four for the third consecutive time, Chennai still needed 63 runs from the last 30 balls. Dhoni was on 18 from 13 balls at that moment. The next two overs both produced 18 runs and 15 from the 18th over left Chennai needing 29 from the final two. As the match headed towards a tense finish, the equation changed to 16 from the last six balls.

Dhoni smashed Irfan Pathan's first ball for a four, took two of the next and then launched two consecutive balls out of the ground for six. Wild celebrations followed as his teammates rushed from the dugout to mob their captain. "I think there was a contribution from each and every batsman," said Dhoni. "Suresh Raina [46] and S Badrinath [53], the way they batted, it gave me a platform to take the game to the end and put pressure on the bowlers."

Raina played a blistering 27-ball knock of 46 and Badrinath kept the scoreboard ticking in the middle overs with a fluent 53 from 36 balls, before Dhoni finished with 29-ball 54. The trio's effort managed to upstage a brilliant innings played earlier in the day by Shaun Marsh. Dropped on 10 and struggling to get anything in the middle of the bat at the start, the Australian soon found his touch and smacked the Chennai bowlers to all parts of the ground. Marsh eventually finished unbeaten on 88, adding 99 from just 48 balls alongside Irfan Pathan (44), as Kings XI Punjab put 192 for three on the board - a score that threatened to put Chennai out of the tournament.

"With 16 needed from the last over, you had to get your length right, your yorkers right," said Kumar Sangakkara, the Punjab captain, in a post-match TV interview after finishing at bottom of the league. "It has been a season of ups and downs. We have been up one day and really down the next. So that consistency has been lacking. But you live and learn. You get better as you go on. Anyway, it has been a privilege to play for Kings XI Punjab, it has been a privilege to play with these guys and it has been a privilege to play in front of these fans."

* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi, with agencies

Kings XI Punjab: Mahela Jayawardene c Tyagi b Morkel 21 (8b, 2×4, 2×6) Shaun Marsh not out 88 (57b 8×4, 5×6) Kumar Sangakkara b Ashwin 33 (24b, 5×4) Yuvraj Singh lbw b Raina 1 (4b) Irfan Pathan not out 44 (27b, 4×4 1×6) Extras: (lb-2, w-3) 5 Total: (for three wickets in 20 overs) 192 Fall of wickets: 1-34, 2-90, 3-93 Bowling: Sudeep Tyagi 2-0-24-0 Doug Bollinger 4-0-39-0 Albie Morkel 4-0-48-1 R. Ashwin 4-0-20-1 Suresh Raina 4-0-33-1 Justin Kemp 1-0-12-0 Shadab Jakati 1-0-14-0 Chennai Super Kings: M Vijay st Sangakkara b Powar 13 (11b, 2×4) Matthew Hayden c Sangakkara b Powar 5 (8b, 1×4) Suresh Raina c Goel b Theron 46 (27b, 5×4, 3×6) Subramanium Badrinath st Sangakkara b Chawla 53 (36b, 7×4, 2×6) Mahendra Dhoni not out 54 (29b, 5×4 2×6) Albie Morkel not out 14 (8b, 2×4) Extras: (lb-5, w-4, nb-1) 10 Total: (for four wickets in 19.4 overs) 195 Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-27, 3-89, 4-148 Bowling: Romesh Powar 4-0-28-2 Irfan Pathan 3.4-0-44-0 Vikram Singh 3-0-40-0 Piyush Chawla 4-0-28-1 Juan Theron 4-0-43-1 Yuvraj Singh 1-0-7-0