Chennai: All-round Chennai Super Kings (CSK) rode M.S. Dhoni's brilliance to get back to the top of the table with a commanding 80-run victory over Delhi Capitals (DC) in a top-of-the-table Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Wednesday.
Asked to bat first, Dhoni first helped CSK recover from a slow start to post 179/4 with an unbeaten 22-ball 44.
The World Cup winning, former India captain then not only used his spinners to perfection as they shared eight wickets among them, but effected two brilliant stumpings to skittle DC out for a paltry 99 in 16.2 overs. Imran Tahir starred for the hosts, returning figures of 4/12.
With one game to go, CSK have 18 points from 13 matches while Delhi remain on 16 points from 13 outings.
Chasing 180 for victory, DC were in the game till the time Shikhar Dhawan (19) and skipper Shreyas Iyer (44; 31b; 4x4; 1x6) were at the crease. The pair stitched together a 48-run stand for the second wicket.
But once Harbhajan Singh (1/28) castled the World Cup-bound India opener just before the end of Powerplay, and in the next over, Tahir saw the back of Rishabh Pant (5), it was all over for DC as they lost wickets in a hurry.
Dhoni showed exceptional reflex even at the age of 37 to effect two stumpings which cost the wickets of Iyer and Chris Morris, both off Ravindra Jadeja's bowling. Jadeja was excellent with the ball too, with figures of 3/9 in his three overs.
Earlier, Suresh Raina struck a half century but it was Dhoni who helped CSK post a competitive total on a wicket that wasn't easy for batting.
Chennai recovered from 53/1 at the halfway stage as Dhoni hit four fours and three sixes to extend his rich form with the bat. Jadeja's quickfire 25 off 10 deliveries also helped as Delhi missed pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada, who was rested, in the death overs.
The visitors leaked 77 runs in the final five overs after Raina (59; 37b; 8x4;1x6) was dismissed in the 15th over.
In that period, Dhoni first combined with Jadeja for a 43-run partnership as both were promoted up the order, to then join hands with Ambati Rayudu for a 34-run unbroken stand for the fifth wicket.
Dhoni continued his love affair with last overs, smashing Trent Boult for two sixes off the last two balls and a four earlier as the New Zealana pacer conceded 21 runs.
The defending champions could manage only 27/1 in the Powerplay overs after losing Shane Watson for a duck, with J Suchith (2/28), playing his first game, accounting for his wicket.
Raina and Du Plessis then associated for a 83 run partnership but consumed 61 balls before Du Plessis was dismissed by Axar Patel, with Shikhar Dhawan taking the catch at long off.
Raina, who brought up his 37th IPL fifty in 34 balls, was removed by Suchith after Dhawan took a brilliant catch off balance but once Dhoni was in the middle, and Jadeja hit a few lusty blows, Chennai ensured their stuttering start made no difference.
Brief scores: Chennai Super Kings: 179/4 (Suresh Raina 59, MS Dhoni 44 not out; J Suchith 2/28) vs Delhi Capitals: 99 all out in 16.2 overs (Shreyas Iyer 44; Imran Tahir 4/12, Ravindra Jadeja 3/9, Harbhajan Singh 1/28)