Chennai Super Kings sailed into the Indian Premier League play-offs on Thursday after a six-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
MS Dhoni's men restricted Hyderabad to 134-7 and knocked off the winning runs with a couple of deliveries to spare, in this top-versus-bottom clash, for their ninth win in 11 games.
Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis shared a 75-run opening stand to put Chennai on the road to their latest victory, before a slight wobble saw them slip to 108-4.
Gaikwad (45), Moeen Ali (17), Suresh Raina (two) and De Plessis (41) all fell, leaving Chennai needing 16 from the last two overs, with Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni stepping up to lead the team home.
Rayudu carted Bhuwanesh Kumar for 13 in the penultimate over before Dhoni finished it off style by hoisting Siddarth Kaul out of the stadium for the winning runs.
“It [the win] means a lot because the last time in the post-match presentation I said we want to come back strong,” Dhoni said.
“You keep learning out of it, and that is what we have done this year even though we played the first half [of the season] earlier. Every credit must be given to the players and the support staff.
“It wasn't a wicket where it was turning or stopping a lot. But there was good bounce. Bowlers varied their pace and length very well.
“That is what I told them before the start of the game as well. The execution was there. The fans have been great from the start.”
Josh Hazlewood (3-24) and Dwayne Bravo (2-17) did most of the damage for Chennai with the ball, taking five wickets between them in eight overs.
Wriddhiman Saha was the only batsmen to provide a knock of substance for Hyderabad with a top score of 44 from 46 balls.
“We couldn’t get enough runs but we were still competitive,” Kane Williamson said after Hyderabad’s ninth defeat in 11 games.
“It was fantastic, and it is important we keep bringing that. At the end of the powerplay, we were 40-something … the cameos from boys in the lower-middle order gave us something.
“So we need to look at how to win games. It is hard when you end up on the losing side. Chennai played really well.”