Riding on a solid batting performance, the formidable Chennai Super Kings opened their Champions League Twenty20 campaign in style, defeating South Africa’s Titans by four wickets in a high-scoring encounter here on Sunday.
Michael Hussey (47) and Suresh Raina (47) clobbered the Titans bowlers to add 89 runs in just 44 balls for the second-wicket, which swung the match decisively in CSK’s favour.
Off the field, CSK supremo N Srinivasan might be facing a lot of trouble but on the field, his players did not have any discomfort in chasing down a daunting target of 186 with seven balls to spare. Dwayne Bravo too played an enterprising innings of 26-balls 38, laced with four fours and two sixes, as Chennai scored 187 for six in 18.5 overs. Hussey and Raina negated AB de Villiers’ whirlwind half-century for the Titans in the first innings as the CSK squeezed their way to a comprehensive win.
De Villiers would have thought the job was done after his 36-ball 77 helped the Titans post a daunting target for Chennai. However, Hussey and Raina made proficient use of an insipid line bowled by the Titan bowlers and stitched a match-winning partnership after the early loss of opener Murali Vijay (0), who was bowled by an arm ball by Roelof van der Merwe. The Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium again witnessed a brief power failure when one of the floodlights conked off and players left the arena. After a brief stoppage, players came back on the field and Merwe completed the first over.
Titan bowlers erred by feeding Hussey and Raina with short-pitched deliveries that were dispatched to the deep mid-wicket fence on most occasions. Both put on display their prolific shotmaking and quick running between the wickets as they brought the home crowd to their feet.
The pair was separated in the eighth over when Morkel caught Raina off David Wiese at mid-off. Raina’s 28-ball knock was laced with five fours and two sixes.
Hussey too made his way back to the pavillion after being caught by de Villiers at mid-off. Hussey faced 26 deliveries and hit seven fours and one six.
Dwayne Bravo and S Badrinath combined well for the fourth wicket and took Chennai from 114 for three in 10 overs to 172 for four. Bravo showed no mercy to Titans bowlers as he continued the onslaught and struck two sixes during his innings to take Chennai within sniffing distance of victory.
Just at the business end of the innings, Chennai lost three quick wickets in the form of Bravo, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (7) and Ravindra Jadeja (0) but Albie Morkel (4) and Badrinath ensured no more casualties.
Earlier, de Villiers’s hurricane knock and skipper Davids’ responsible 52 paved the way for Titans’ challenging total against the home favourites.
Sent in to bat, South African T20 runners-up Titans built on the 39-ball 76-run partnership between Davids and de Villiers for the second wicket to post a competitive total. De Villiers played a whirlwind knock and treated the CSK bowlers with disdain. The right-hander was at his destructive best and blasted as many as seven sixes and three fours during his brutal display of strokeplay.