Captain Mahendra Dhoni on Wednesday hailed the Chennai Super Kings’ graduation to the semi-finals stage of the 2011 Indian Premier League after their clinical 11-run win over the Kochi Tuskers Kerala.
Chasing a tough target after Wriddhiman Saha’s 46 not out and Mike Hussey’s 32 propelled the home side to 152 for five, Kochi valiantly gunned for glory only to end 11 runs shy at 141 for five in Chepauk.
While they’ve only won two of their six away games this year, Wednesday’s result was the Super Kings’ seventh victory on the trot at their homeground – the MA Chidambaram Stadium – and leaves them guaranteed of a spot amid the lucrative Twenty20 tournament’s final four teams.
“Our home record is something that we can be really proud of,” enthused Dhoni.
“It is a big achievement for us but it does not mean that we have to relax a bit. You don’t want to win all games easily if you want to make the semi-finals. You want to test your middle-order, lower-order and your bowlers. I think we are now ready for the big games.”
Ravichandran Ashwin was instrumental to the hosts’ successful defence and was happy to restrict the big-hitting Brendon McCullum amid superb figures of one for 16 across four overs, leaving fellow spinner Shahdab Jakati to ultimately remove the New Zealand recruit.
McCullum tried his utmost to upset the current champions with a brisk vigil at the top of the pursuit, but his efforts were unable to travel any further than 33 when Jakati’s quicker delivery castled the right-hander.
“I have been bowling to McCullum a lot of times recently and have got him out a few times, so I thought I would get him again, but that was left to Shahdab,” said Ashwin.
“We wanted McCullum to hit straight down the ground, which is not his strength, and we got it right eventually.”
Defeated captain Parthiv Patel, who has taken over the Kochi leadership since Mahela Jayawardene’s departure for Sri Lankan duty, rued a tardy pursuit.
Whereas Brad Hodge’s blitzkrieg 51 not out provided belated. albeit vain. hope for the visiting side, the damage was initially done by the rest of the Kochi order’s inability to find the fence with enough regularity.
“I thought 150-odd was a good score to chase. We had a plan to keep wickets in hands but we accelerated a bit too late,” lamented Patel.
“We were in the game until the 10th over and wanted to accelerate from the 12th or 13th over, but left it a couple of overs late.” Cricket365