IPL: Chennai outclass Hyderabad by eight wickets

IPL: Chennai outclass Hyderabad by eight wickets

In a match which was of least significance in the context of the tournament (both the teams had already qualified for play-offs) and played CSK's "new home" at Pune's MCA Stadium, Mahendra Singh Dhoni called correctly at the toss and invited the Kane Williamson-led SRH to bat first. "He nearly clears the field every time he plays the big shot".

The evergreen Dhoni: In 12 innings in this tournament, MS Dhoni has finished not out eight times and now has 413 runs at an average of 103.30. We at least got hit 4-5 boundaries off full length. During the practice sessions a day prior to the match-days this IPL season, Dhoni has been the last one to pad up.

The target was achieved easily, courtesy Shane Watson (57, 5x4, 3x6) and Rayudu.

CSK made a flier of a run chase, scoring 53 for no loss in the powerplay overs with Rayudu hitting Bhuvneshwar for two sixes during that period and Watson doing the dame to Sandeep Sharma (1/36).

The Super Kings now have eight wins from 12 matches and are on the verge of qualification.

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This innings against Sunrisers was the start of the consistency that was missing from Rayudu's career. He is on third spot among top run getters with 535, behind Sunrisers captain Kane Williamson (544) and Kings XI Punjab's Lokesh Rahul (537). Rayudu likes to don his dancing shoes every now and then; a method that is ostensibly aimed at throwing off bowlers' lines and lengths. The result is Sunrisers' excellence in the middle overs, where their run rate of 8.05 is fifth among eight teams in this season, thanks to their captain carrying the bulk of the burden.

Rayudu remained unbeaten on 100 off 62 deliveries (7 fours and 7 sixes) while Dhoni (20* off 14) once again returned unbeaten. This was clinical hitting against bowlers who were now under pressure. "If you are good at four-day cricket, you can bat at any position", he said after the win.

Chasing 180, Rayudu and Watson took on SRH bowlers after a couple of overs of caution.

Such are the vagaries of cricket and the unpredictability of the shortest format that makes heroes out of players in obscurity.

He has been included in the ODI team for the tour of England, replacing Ajinkya Rahane, who seemed to be future for India at number four. The duo added 134 runs - the highest by an opening pair vs SRH this season - and laid the platform for an easy win. And, with a rejuvenated Dhoni batting better than he has ever batted in the IPL, SRH would've thought the defence was always going to be tough, even with the best bowling line-up of this IPL.