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CHENNAI: Sakshi Dhoni could barely watch. Dale Steyn had unleashed a fast, short delivery at her husband, who had half-fended, half-pulled it high into the air. The ball swirled in the night sky for what seemed like an eternity – Ms. Dhoni’s manicured hands still barring her vision – and dropped down and out of a sloppy Amit Mishra’s hands at fine-leg.
Relief spread through Ms. Dhoni’s face like Indian ink on blotting paper. For Mishra, who had in the preceding ten minutes taken out Michael Hussey (45) and Murali Vijay (18) to get Hyderabad back into the match, had just let slip the biggest fish. Dhoni had scored naught then, and he went on to compile a pefectly-paced 37-ball 67, including three stunning sixes off Steyn - guiding Chennai to another home win.
The home side needed 28 off the last two overs after Dwayne Bravo was out caught trying to pull Ishant Sharma. And Dhoni's second assault on Steyn, in the 19th over, meant that 15 were required in the last six balls, to be delivered by Ashish Reddy. The young medium-pacer started with a wide, was subjected to a six, and then bowled four more wides down the leg-side for another thumping Chennai win.
After the local openers put on 65 in pursuit of Hyderabad’s 159/6, Mishra had struck twice, getting Vijay stumped and the classy Hussey caught behind. The wily leg-spinner claimed Raina (16) too - a needless hoick to long-on - but Dhoni ensured the initial work was not laid to waste.
Hyderabad Sunrisers were in trouble early on when debutant Quinton de Kock went to a sharp catch by Murali Vijay in the first over. Hanuma Vihari was run-out by Suresh Raina in the third over, and Cameron White’s edge to MS Dhoni off Mohit Sharma left the visiting team on the verge of a collapse at 37/3.
But Shikhar Dhawan, returning from injury after his sensational Test debut hundred against Australia, and Ashish Reddy rescued Hyderabad from the clutches of a rank bad total. Dhawan’s 45-ball 63 was sectioned in two by a painful blow sustained to the nether regions by a Dwayne Bravo delivery when he had scored 44.
The injury floored the Delhi opener and he went off the field only to return in the 18th at the fall of Sammy’s wicket. Sammy had meanwhile provided the first thrust through a peppy 12-ball 19, that contained a maximum smoked off Ravindra Jadeja.
If the first half of Dhawan’s knock had been sparkling, the second was brutal. Dhawan and Reddy smashed 43 in just 16 balls, the left-hander particularly severe on the medium-pacer Mohit, while Reddy reserving special treatment for Bravo, who was carted for 16 in the last over.
Fifty-nine runs in the last four overs brought Sunrisers in with a chance. But Hussey’s surety at the beginning of the chase and Chennai’s ability to turn it on at all the right moments – especially at Chepauk – saved them the night yet again.