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RANCHI: Eleven overs of spin. That’s all it took for Chennai Super Kings to smother Brisbane Heat, the laggards of CLT20, and be the first team into the semifinals of the tournament. At MS Dhoni’s homeground, the site of his magnificent striking against Sunrisers Hyderabad, it was Chennai's strength in slow bowling that set up victory, by eight wickets, restricting Heat to 137/7 on a flat track after Dhoni had elected to field.
The target proved to be even less challenging when Murali Vijay decided to end a run of three ducks with a strokeful 27-ball 42. Michael Hussey provided the solidity with an unbeaten 48-ball 57, and Dhoni, walking in after Suresh Raina had fallen in his attempts at hastening the result, ended it the only way knows. Dhoni smacked Ben Cutting for six to end the match in the 16th over, an ironic turn of events for it was Cutting’s big strikes that had earlier taken Heat to a quasi competitive total.
Called in to check Heat in the first innings, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina conceded just 37 in a combined 11 overs and also picked up four wickets. The rest of the bowling went for 100 in 10 overs. Heat had reached 50 for two at the end of the Powerplay when Dhoni sought to slow down proceedings. Jadeja was summoned. He struck first ball, although it was less him striking, more Daniel Christian mistiming his biff to long-on. In the same over, Jadeja had Joe Burns caught at slip for a golden duck.
The innings lapsed into a coma from here, showing signs of life only when a wicket fell. An Ashwin off-break got rid of Chris Lynn (29) and Raina joined the fun when Chris Sabbarg played on, after a painful 14-ball two. At 66 for six in the 13th over, Cutting (42, 25b, 5x6) and Chris Hartley (35) showed enough mind to wait out the spinners, beforehammering out 50 runs in the last three overs. No sooner that Chennai’s seamers returned to action, Cutting cut loose and smashed Dwayne Bravo for sixes.
It was obvious that the batsmen preferred the ball coming on to the bat far more than they did the loopy projectiles of the spinners. Raina still had an over remaining. Even so, Dhoni chose to bring in Mohit Sharma for the last six deliveries. Cutting ravaged the young medium pacer over the off-side for maximums, before Hartley rounded things up nicely with a brace of fours. Twenty-one came from the last over. They were not enough.