Chennai: Pacer Ashish Nehra snapped up three wickets to lead a disciplined bowling attack as two-time champions Chennai Super Kings defeated Delhi Daredevils by one run in a last-over thriller of the IPL-8 Twenty20 cricket tournament here on Thursday.
Needing 19 runs off the last over, Albie Morkel blasted two fours and a six off Dwayne Bravo but Delhi still fell short by one run at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here.
Earlier put into bat, Chennai were caught in a spin web and could only manage a modest 150-7, courtesy contributions by Dwayne Smith (34), middle-order batsman Faf du Plessis (32) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (30).
Defending the total, Ashish Nehra produced a fiery spell of fast bowling, dismissing Chidhambaram Gautam (4), Mayank Agarwal (15) and Shreyas Iyer (7) early on to put Delhi on the backfoot.
Albie Morkel anchored the runchase with an unbeaten 55-ball 73 but he didn’t get the much-needed support at the other end as Chennai eventually restricted them to 149-9 in their stipulated 20 overs to launch their IPL-8 campaign on a positive note.
Chasing 151, Delhi were left tottering at 39 for three in five overs, thanks to a fiery spell by Nehra, who scalped two wickets — Chidhambaram Gautam (4) and Mayank Agarwal (15) — within a space of four balls in the third over to reduce Delhi to 20 for two.
Nehra, who will turn 36 on April 29, then came back to snap up another wicket, getting rid of Shreyas Iyer (7) with Faf du Plessis taking a brilliant catch.
Morkel and Kedar Jadhav (20), who were promoted up the order, then guided Delhi to 67-3 at the end of 10 overs.
However, their 48-run stand was broken by Mohit Sharma, who had Jadhav caught by Ashwin at point.
Needing 64 runs off 41 balls, Yuvraj Singh joined Morkel but his much-awaited innings lasted for only six balls as Delhi were looking down the barrel at 99 for 5 at 14.3 overs.
Trying to play a hook shot of Bravo, Yuvraj ended up giving an easy catch to Ishwar Pandey.
Skipper Duminy too could not stay longer as he deflected a Pandey delivery ontop his stumps as Delhi slipped further to 106 for 6.
Nathan smashed a four before being cleaned up by Ashwin as Morkel was left waging a lonely battle.
Besides Nehra (3/25), Dwayne Bravo (2/36) took two wickets, while Mohit Sharma (1/33), Ishwar Pandey (1/30) and R Ashwin (1/25) scalped one each for Chennai.
Earlier, opener Dwayne Smith (34) and Faf du Plessis (32) provided Chennai a good platform but Delhi’s spin trio of Amit Mishra (1/21), Imran Tahir (1/27) and J P Duminy (1/15) bowled beautifully to restrict Chennai to a modest score.
With wickets tumbling, Dhoni too found the going tough.
In the end, the Chennai skipper blasted two sixes in the last over to take his team close to the 150-mark.
Australian pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile was the highest wicket-taker for Delhi as he scalped three for 30 in his four overs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Dwayne Smith gave Chennai a flying start as he blasted three fours in the opening over to amass 16 runs.
His opening partner Brendon McCullum (4) too smashed a boundary in the first ball of the next over but Nathan came back strongly, dismissing the New Zealand captain in the next ball to strike an early blow.
Nathan struck again in his second over as he cleaned up Suresh Raina to reduce Chennai to 38 for two.
New man du Plessis then joined Smith and blasted a couple of boundaries off Domnic Joseph and Albie Morkel.
Delhi skipper Duminy introduced spinners Imran and Amit next and the plan worked as the South African gave a simple catch to Nathan at deep midwicket while looking for a boundary.
Next batsman Ravindra Jadeja didn’t waste any time as he cracked a four and six within 10 balls of his stay, while du Plessis indulged in singles and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking with spinners bowling in tendem.
After 12 over, du Plessis hit Duminy for a four over extra cover but he was dismissed in the next ball when he tried to smash another ball for a boundary, only to be caught
by Shreyas Iyer at the fence.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni then joined Jadeja but the latter could not stay longer as he was foxed by Mishra’s googly which sent his stumps for a walk.
Domnic Joseph then joined the party, getting rid of Dwayne Bravo with a delivery that trapped him in front of the wicket as Chennai slipped to 120 for six in 16.4 over.
Dhoni tried his hand and blasted two sixes in the last over before holing out to Mayank Agarwal as Chennai posted 150 in the end.