Nervy Super Kings hold on to qualify for semis
A nervy looking Chennai Super Kings held on to secure a tense 10 run victory over the Chevrolet Warriors to secure their place in the Twenty20 Champions League semi finals.
The victory for the Super Kings sets up a clash with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first semi final on Friday evening at Kingsmead while the Warriors take on the South Australia Redbacks on Saturday.
With such a low run chase the Warriors could afford to lose the game as long as they scored 109 runs in order to pip the Victorian Bushranger for second place in Group A.
At times in their run chase the Warriors looked on the verge of crashing out of the tournament but Mark Boucher played a vital innings adding 25 runs to secure their progress and set up a tense finish with the Super Kings fighting to stay in the tournament.
The Warriors got of to a fortunate start with skipper Davey Jones playing the ball onto his own stumps in the 2nd over but amazing neither bail fell to the floor despite both lifting of the wickets.
Ashwin Prince rode his luck as well when he was dropped in the following over by Murali Vijay out on the boundary but the Warriors luck finally ran out at the start of the third over which was bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin.
Having seen his first ball dispatched for a boundary Ashwin struck back with a good length ball which Prince (9) tried to smash through mid off but he could only edge it to Justin Kemp at second slip who took a stunning one handed catch diving away to his left.
Despite the lose of Prince which left the Warriors 24-1; Jacobs (32) continued to attack the bowlers until he was caught by Michael Hussey who took an excellent catch out in the right rope to end the skipper innings.
The lose of Jacobs and Warriors inability to score any runs off the Super Kings spin bowlers left the home side 49-2 at the end of the 9th over with the required run rate topping 8 an over.
Colin Ingram (17) quickly followed as the tension mounted and thoughts turned from victory to the target of 109 which would guarantee them a place in the semi finals as they still needed 70 runs from 42 balls.
Just like during the Super Kings innings the spin bowlers were taking control of the match with Shadab Jakati and Suresh Raina proving troublesome for Justin Kreusch and Mark Boucher.
With just 5 overs remaining the Warriors needed 52 runs to claim victory but moiré importantly just 24 more runs to secure a semi final place.
Muttiah Muralitharan added to the pressure by conceding just 6 runs from the 16th over before Boucher struck back dispatching Jakati for a vital six over long-on much to the delight of the capacity crowd at St George’s Park.
Boucher dispatched another six from Jakati’s final delivery over to all but seal the Warriors place in the semi finals as the score reached 105-3 with 18 deliveries to go but the game took another twist when Kreusch (25) was dismissed by Ashwin to leave the Warriors 107-4.
With the tension mounting Boucher eased the fears of the crowd by dispatching Ashwin for a boundary to secure qualification but while the fans were celebrating Boucher (25) tried to report the shot only to be caught by Kemp at long-on to leave the Warriors needing 25 runs from 12 balls to claim victory.
With the Super Kings thoughts turning to their own survival Johan Botha smashed Doug Bollinger for two quick boundaries at the start of the penultimate over before the Super Kings hit by picking up the wicket of Craig Thyseen (1) who was run out by Dhoni.
The wicket left the Warriors 120-6 needing another 15 runs from the last over to secure a stunning victory but Muralitharan held his nerves and delivered a perfect over conceding just 4 runs.
With so much riding on the game the Super Kings got off to an excellent start with Vijay and Hussey sharing an opening stand of 63.
The pair started off slowly scoring 37 runs during the power play overs but when Nicky Boje was brought into the attack Vijay dispatched the spinner for a massive six over midwicket before scoring another boundary of Boje’s last ball.
The ease with how Vijay scored would have alarmed Warriors skipper Davey Jacobs who had come into the game with three spinners and only one recognised fast bowler, Makhaya Ntini.
Vijay and Hussey continued to turn the strike over taking easy singles with ease until their partnership was ended by Justin Kreusch who bowled Vijay (35) with a full length delivery which the batsman tried to flick through midwicket.
The wicket was a big breakthrough for the Warriors and even though Hussey added 26 more runs with Suresh Raina (6); the new batsman quickly returned to the dugout after he was brilliantly caught by Colin Ingram out on the boundary.
The wicket gave Kreusch his second victim of the night and left the Super Kings 89-2 but with Hussey and MS Dhoni now at the crease the Super Kings would have still felt confident of scoring a big total.
Hussey completed a well deserved half century from the last delivery of Kreusch’s 3rd over with a quickly taken single which put him on strike to face Johan Boje but the spinner who had conceded 21 runs from his previous 2 overs struck back to dismiss the opening batsman.
Boje bowled a full delivery which Hussey (50) tried to slog sweep but the pace beat the Australian and he could only watch as the ball smashed into his middle stump.
After a positive start the Super Kings were now starting to struggle with the run rate dipping to just 6.8 and when Kreusch returned to bowl Subramaniam Badrinath (2) the current IPL Champions had been reduced to 99-4 with only 5 overs remaining.
Boje and Rusty Theron increased the pressure by conceded just 9 runs during the next two overs to leave the Super Kings 18 balls to rescue their stuttering innings which had seen them only score 21 runs from their previous 5 overs.
Having started off so well the Super Kings innings had almost ground to a halt before Dhoni smashed two fours and a six off the bowling of the Lonwabo Tsotsobe to add 16 vital runs to their total.
Theron struck back to remove Srikkanth Anirudha (7) with the second ball of the final over before new batsman Justin Kemp sacrificed his wicket by running himself out to get Dhoni (31) back on strike.
The Super Kings skipper added 3 more runs before Ravichandran Ashwin scored 1 run from the final ball of the game to help the IPL franchise reach 136-6.