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Dhoni seals place in semi finals for Chennai

MS Dhoni held his nerve to score a superb half century to lead the Chennai Super Kings to a sensational 6 wicket victory over the Kings XI Punjab to seal a place in the semi finals of the Indian Premier League.

The victory catapults the Super Kings up into second place in the IPL group standings and guarantees them a place in the knock out stages which start on Wednesday.

With only a victory being good enough to secure a top four finish Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni decided to bowl first after winning the toss at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium in Dharamsala.

It proved to be a bad decision as the home side got off to a fantastic start with Mahela Jayawardene (21) and Marsh building a first wicket partnership of 34 from just 18 balls before the Sri Lankan was caught by Sudeep Tyagi to give Albie Morkel the early breakthrough for the Super Kings.

Marsh was joined at the crease by skipper Kumar Sangakkara who added 33 runs before he was bowled Ravichandvan Ashwin in the 10th to leave the Kings XI 90-2 but with still 9 more overs to go they were well placed to push on for a big score.

The young Aussie was starting to become a thorn in the side of the Super Kings as he passed his half century with a huge six off the bowling of Suresh Raina in the 13th over.

He was now partnered by big hitting Irfan Pathan after the loss of Yuvraj Singh (1) who had another disappointing outing with the bat as the Kings XI threatened to ruin the party for the Super Kings.

The pair pressed on passing 150 as their partnership reached 57 to put the pressure on the Super Kings as field mistakes were starting to appear in the field, Pathan was dropped by Tyagi in the 18th over and Marsh made him pay with a huge six from the next ball of Doug Bollingerís over.

Marsh (88) and Pathan (44) pushed on reaching 192-3 to leave the Super Kings with a large run chase to reach the knock out stages of the Indian Premier League.

With such a large run chase the Super Kings needed to get off to a good start but Matthew Hayden and Murali Vijay struggled as the Kings XI opened the innings with spinner Ramesh Power.

The young Indian struck twice inside the first 4 overs to remove Vijay (15) and Hayden (5) to leave the Super Kings in big trouble having been reduced to 27-2.

Raina, who has enjoyed a fabulous tournament with the bat lead the Super Kings fight back with a brilliant innings of 46 which brought the visitors back into the game as the run rate dipped below 10 for the first time since the wicket of Hayden in the third over.

Partnered by Subramaniam Badrinath, the pair built a third wicket partnership of 62 before Raina was caught by Karan Goel out of the boundary to give Juan Theron the big break through.

Badrinath remained at the crease and was joined by Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni with the visitors needing another 104 runs from just 62 balls to secure an unlikely victory.

The Kings XI, who were off the pace for most of the tournament were playing for pride and they kept the pressure on the Super Kings as Badrinath and Dhoni were made to fight for every run.

Badrinath (53) brought up a well deserved half century with a four through mid wicket but Piyush Chawla struck back with the very next as Badrinath was stumped by Sangakkara to leave the Super Kings needing a miracle to keep their IPL dreams alive.

Dhoni and Albie Morkel kept the pressure on the Kings XI bowlers and the visitors went into the last over needing another 16 runs as the tension started to increase among all the teams still involved in the hunt for a place in the semi finals.

The Super Kings skipper smashed a boundary off the first ball of Pathanís over before taking two runs of the next ball to set up a thrilling finished with the visitors needing another 10 runs from the last 4 balls.

The drama continued as Dhoni smashed a huge six out of the ground before repeating the shot to steer the Super Kings to a stunning victory and a place in the IPL semi finals.

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