Cobras stumble at the death

Chennai Super Kings (File)
Chennai Super Kings (File)
Chennai - Top-class finishing by Dwayne Bravo carried the Chennai Super Kings to a thrilling four-wicket victory with two balls to spare over the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in their Nokia Champions League match at the M A Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday.

A devastating burst of off-spin from JP Duminy seemed to have given the Cobras a firm hold on proceedings, but Bravo raced to 46 not out off 25 balls to turn the tables on the South Africans.

The Super Kings went into the penultimate over needing 23 runs and Bravo lashed fast bowler Dale Steyn for a massive six over midwicket and then stroked the next two balls for superb fours through the off side.

The West Indian showed fine composure and timed the ball beautifully on a slow pitch, largely choosing orthodox strokes and executing them well.

The Cobras will be aghast that they jaywalked their way through the closing overs of both their innings and Chennai's to let strong positions slip.

Steyn had bowled three overs for 12 runs, but made a mess of the 19th over, gifting Bravo the biggest six of the tournament (105m) with a full toss and then offering too much width and length with the next two balls.

Mike Hussey, probably the most in-form batsman in the world right now, went to town at the start of the innings as Chennai set off in pursuit of 146 for victory.

Hussey lambasted four fours and a six in his 29 off 24 balls before Duminy's outstanding effort with a damp ball and moistened pitch due to considerable dew.

The under-rated off-spinner removed Hussey in his first over, cooking up a wonderful slider that went in between the bat and pad of the charging left-hander, wicketkeeper Dane Vilas doing his best to fluff the stumping before eventually breaking the stumps.

Duminy's hot streak continued with the wickets of Subramaniam Badrinath (2), Wriddhiman Saha (6) and Suresh Raina (20), to a sharp, low return catch as he finished with four for 20, becoming the first man in Champions League history to take four wickets and score more than 25 runs in the same match.

When Mahendra Singh Dhoni (15) was bowled by Vernon Philander off a fat inside edge in the 18th over, Chennai seemed to have little chance of victory, needing 26 off 14 balls.

But Bravo then exploded into life with an exquisite innings, producing that little bit extra that is so typical of the defending champions.

A quick double strike by Albie Morkel had earlier restricted the Cape Cobras to 145 for seven.

Owais Shah (45 off 38 balls) and Duminy (29 off 24) had looked in fine touch adding 57 in seven overs to lift the Cobras to 124 for three after 16 overs. But Morkel removed both batsmen in the space of three balls and the Western Cape team will be disappointed they then limped to the end of the innings.

Morkel finished with two for 26 in three overs, having gone for 21 in his first two overs, but the whole Chennai attack showed tremendous heart after losing an important toss.

Richard Levi (6) was trapped lbw by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin's first delivery, but Herschelle Gibbs (18) and Vilas (18) were busy bees as they steered the Cobras to 48 for two at the end of the batting powerplay (6 overs).

Gibbs fell in the fifth over, skying a poor pull shot off left-arm paceman Doug Bollinger and it was the famous Bravo slower ball that did for Vilas, bowling the wicketkeeper/batsman at the end of the ninth over.

Shah and Duminy, batting sensibly and skilfully, established control for the Cobras, before the Super Kings struck back.

The ageless wisdom that dropping catches proves costly was not true in this case as Shadab Jakati, having dropped an easy return catch from Duminy in the previous over, took a fine catch over his shoulder, running back from short fine leg, as the left-hander top-edged a leg-side heave off Morkel.

Shah exited two balls later, chipping a Morkel slower ball to wide mid-on, and Bollinger and Bravo then finished the innings in exceptional fashion, conceding just 14 runs in the last three overs and removing Justin Ontong (3) and Robin Peterson (5) respectively.

Ashwin (4-0-26-1), Bollinger (4-0-25-2) and undoubted man-of the-match Bravo (4-0-23-2) all ended with excellent figures.


Chennai Super Kings:
M Vijay, MEK Hussey, SK Raina, S Badrinath, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), JA Morkel, DJ Bravo, WP Saha, R Ashwin, DE Bollinger, SB Jakati

Cape Cobras: RE Levi, HH Gibbs, JP Duminy, OA Shah, JM Kemp (capt), DJ Vilas (wk), VD Philander, JL Ontong, RJ Peterson, DW Steyn, CK Langeveldt
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