Without a doubt the most powerful IPL franchise - if not in all Twenty20 cricket - Chennai Super Kings have lived up to expectations by making it to their fifth IPL final in six season. Here, we take a look at how CSK's season has panned out.
1st match, v MI in Chennai - lost by nine runsCSK opened the tournament with a narrow defeat to the team they will meet in the final, Mumbai Indians. Their bowlers had Mumbai on the mat until Kieron Pollard exploded with 57 off 38 balls to get the total to 148 for 6, a target which CSK fell short of despite MS Dhoni blazing 51 in 26 balls. A superb boundary catch by Pollard cut off the CSK captain and the hosts ended up nine runs short.
2nd match, v KXIP in Mohali - won by 10 wickets
CSK's first win was a crushing defeat of Kings XI Punjab, set up by their bowlers and completed in stunning manner by their openers, in particular Michael Hussey who larruped 86 in 54 balls as a target of 139 was achieved with ten wickets in hand. That innings put in motion a superb run of form for Hussey who entered the final as the leading run-scorer in the tournament.
3rd match, v RCB in Chennai - won by four wickets
CSK pipped southern rivals Royal Challengers Bangalore with one delivery remaining in one of the tournament's tightest finishes. Chasing 166, CSK needed two to win off the last ball, Ravindra Jadeja edged a wide delivery outside off stump straight to third man and was caught, but Bangalore's celebration was short-lived as RP Singh overstepped by a big margin. Jadeja took a run while the catch was being taken and the extra run for the no-ball helped CSK snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
4th match, v PWI in Chennai - lost by 24 runs
Few would have backed Pune Warriors to beat CSK in their own backyard but that's exactly what happened. Indebted to two Aaron Finch and Steven Smith who pitched in with clutch innings at either end of 20 overs set up a match-winning total of 159 for 5, Pune then put in an excellent performance in the field to beat CSK by 24 runs.
5th match, v DD in Delhi - won by 86 runs
Coming off an upset defeat to Pune, CSK got back to winning ways against the poorest team in the league, Delhi Daredevils. Those who came to the Feroz Shah Kotla witnessed an utter mismatch, with CSK drubbing this season's laughing stock by 86 runs to move up to fourth on the IPL 6 points table. The tactic of keeping wickets in hand for the late overs worked for Chennai, who went at run-a-ball for the first ten overs despite being just one wicket down; Hussey Dhoni ransacked 38 off the last three over to surge to 169 for 4. Delhi lost four wickets inside the Powerplay and their final total of 83 was the lowest this year.
6th match, v KKR in Kolkata - won by four wickets
In a rematch of the 2012 final, CSK got the better of Kolkata Knight Riders in a low-scorer highlighted by sloppy batting and manic running between the wickets. Cricket-wise it was a match to forget, but the drama made for another scrappy thriller as CSK overhauled a target of 120 with four wickets and five deliveries remaining. From 46 for 0, KKR lost nine wickets for 61 runs to finish on 119 for 9, a total their spinners fought valiantly to defend. Jadeja larruped 36 from 14 balls to seal victory.
7th match, v RR in Chennai - won by five wickets
CSK made it a hat-trick of wins by chasing down 186 thanks to fifties to Hussey (88) and Suresh Raina (51) after Shane Watson became the first centurion of IPL 6. Once again CSK's depth in batting came to the fore, with Dwayne Bravo hitting the winning runs as the tension was ratcheted up.
8th match, v SH in Chennai - won by five wickets
Another narrow win for CSK in a tense chase, this time over Sunrisers Hyderabad. Chasing 160, CSK were boosted by Hussey (45) and taken across the finish line by Dhoni's bullish 67 not out off just 37 balls. Victory came with two balls remaining.
9th match, v KKR in Chennai - won by 14 runs
Hussey continued his strong form with 95 off 59 balls and Raina (44) continued to shrug off a lean run as CSK made 200 for 3, after which Manvinder Bisla's 92 gave the hosts a scare. But in the end, KRR ran out of steam and ended up 14 runs short.
10th match, v PWI in Pune - won by 37 runs
What was seen as a grudge match for CSK turned into one-way traffic as the IPL 6 table-toppers extended their lead over the next best team to four points with a 37-run win at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium. Their sixth win on the trot was set up by a late surge from Raina (63*) and Dhoni (45* off 16 balls) and stamped by three early wickets from seamer Mohit Sharma.
11th match, v KXIP in Chennai - won by 15 runs
Raina's maiden IPL century drove CSK to their seventh consecutive victory and ensured their qualification for the IPL 6 play-offs. Raina's excellent innings needed 53 balls and took CSK from 27 for 1 to 186 for 4, a total that Punjab threatened to overhaul thanks to a belligerent partnership between Shaun Marsh and David Miller but in the end came up 15 runs short.
12th match, v MI in Mumbai - lost by 60 runs
It was always going to need something dramatic to stop CSK's seven-match winning streak (the joint-best in the history of IPL) and Mumbai benefited from an absolutely shambolic batting effort from the visitors to win by a humungous 60 runs at the Wankhede Stadium. Seeking the two points needed to extend their winning run at home, Mumbai were lifted by their bowlers after a late rally from Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh got them to 139. This despite Pollard dropping Hussey three times in three balls during the opening over of CSK's chase, which was snuffed out for 79 in 15.2 overs.
13th match, v SH in Hyderabad - won by 77 runs
CSK bounced back with a huge win over Hyderabad, set up by Hussey's 67 and Raina's 99 not out. The in-form pair boosted the total to a massive 223 for 3, after which Mohit Sharma struck two early blows from which the hosts never recovered. For good measure, Raina picked up a wicket too.
14th match, v RR in Jaipur - lost by five wickets
Rajasthan maintained their unbeaten run at the fortress of the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, chasing CSK's 141 down thanks to Watson's brutal 71 and a punchy unbeaten 41 from Stuart Binny. CSK had Rajasthan struggling at 45 for 4 before Watson and Binny slammed 93 in 7.3 overs to take the team to No. 2
15th match, v DD in Chennai - won by 33 runs
Delhi were drubbed again as Dhoni (58*) helped up a match-winning total of 168 for 4, followed by the bowlers sharing wickets to keep the woeful visiting team to 135 for 9.
16th match, v RCB in Bangalore - lost by 24 runs
CSK were beaten in their last league match, in an eight-over shootout against RCB in Bangalore. RCB's batsmen swung the total to 106 for 2 and in reply CSK never got the desired lift from their big bats - Hussey made 6, Raina a first-ball 0 and it was too much for even Dhoni to pull off.
Qualifier 1, v MI in Delhi - won by 48 runs
CSK sealed their place in the final thanks to an unbroken stand of 140 between Hussey (86*) and Raina (82*) that put up 192 for 1 on board, and once Dwayne Smith (68) was dismissed Mumbai's chase gave way. CSK's chief all rounders Bravo and Jadeja pocketed three wickets each.
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