MS Dhoni returned to action to lead Chennai Super Kings to a dominant 80-run defeat of Delhi Capitals in a clash between the top two in the Indian Premier League.
Captain Dhoni, Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja all missed the humbling defeat by Mumbai Indians last time out, yet they were back on Wednesday and helped their side return to winning ways.
Du Plessis was not quite at his imperious best and contributed to a slow start, but Dhoni made an unbeaten 44 off 22 late on – after Suresh Raina’s 59 – and a total of 179-4 left the Capitals with plenty of work to do.
Although an initially impressive response saw Shreyas Iyer make 44, Delhi lost the last eight wickets for 47 runs to be all out for 99 as Jadeja (3-9) and Imran Tahir (4-12) made hay.
SLUGGISH START FROM SUPER KINGS
The Super Kings crawled along at the start of the powerplay, registering just three singles in each of their first three overs, before Shane Watson departed for a nine-ball duck in the fourth.
Chennai improved only to 27-1 by the end of the six-over restrictions and they were 53-1 through 10 overs, seemingly on course for a below-par total.
Raina had arrived to the middle by then, though, and the pace finally picked up when Du Plessis (39) sent Axar Patel to Shikhar Dhawan, allowing Dhoni to dazzle in the closing stages.
DHONI DELIVERS AT CRUCIAL TIME
Raina hit three boundaries in succession shortly before departing in the 15th over, having provided all 15 runs in his brief third-wicket stand with Dhoni.
The scoring simply ramped up from there and Dhoni smashed four fours and three sixes, while Jadeja made 25 from 10, helping the Super Kings hit 53 from the final three overs against a Delhi attack without Kagiso Rabada.
It was a much-needed intervention, too, as the Capitals started in fine fashion, ending the powerplay on a competitive 59-2.
For you, Super Fans! This win, a tribute, with #Yellove from the Lions for your endearing support, through thick and thin! Thank you! #WhistlePodu pic.twitter.com/KMLkzPJ3jQ— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) May 1, 2019
REMARKABLE COLLAPSE ENDS CHASE EARLY
The wicket of Dhawan (19) midway through the sixth over appeared to derail Delhi and their response to losing the opener was to fold in a hurry.
Rishabh Pant (5) and Colin Ingram soon departed (1), while Patel and Sherfane Rutherford went to Tahir in the same over, leaving the score at 83-6.
It became more brutal still when Jadeja saw Dhoni stump both Chris Morris for a first-ball duck and Iyer – who faced 33 deliveries, managing four boundaries as well as a solitary six – as the Capitals lost all composure.
A run out did not aid Delhi as they bowled out with 22 balls remaining to slip two points behind Chennai in the standings.