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Chennai Super Kings (CSK) made a heavy weather of a small total before captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni did his famous finishing act to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by six wickets and virtually seal their place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs here on Saturday, needing just one more win in five matches. RCB, on the other hand, are virtually out of the race for the play-offs. They are currently on six points and have to win all their five remaining matches, which is a big ask for the off-colour unit. The Chennai are sitting pretty on top of the table with 14 points from 10 matches. They have won seven of those matches while losing three. The Chennai team, which has a reputed batting line-up, were expected to acomplish the job quite easily. But the team put themselves under pressure in the slog overs before skipper Dhoni smashed three sixes off RCB's star spinner Yuzvendra Chahal to take his side across the line in the 18th over.
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Having elected to field first on winning the toss, CSK restricted the visitors to 127/9 in their 20 overs. CSK were boosted by an excellent display by the hitherto off-colour Ravindra Jadeja who roared back to form with figures of 3/18. Ambati Rayudu laid the foundation of a successful chase with 32 runs off 25 balls after the other opener Shane Watson was bowled by Umesh Yadav in the third over. Rayudu and Suresh Raina tried to bring the chase back on track with a 44-run stand before Yadav struck again, removing Raina in the ninth over.
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Rayudu fell a couple of overs later when he attempted an expansive shot off Murugan Ashwin, only to hand an easy top edge to Mohammed Siraj at short third man. Colin de Grandhomme then removed Dhruv Shorey, who made his IPL debut, in the next over to put the hosts under pressure. However, Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo batted slowly but sensibly to ensure victory for the hosts without any further loss of wickets. Earlier, disciplined bowling by CSK and a few reckless shots by the RCB batsmen saw the visitors being restricted to a low total.
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The highlight of the RCB batting effort was a half-century from opener Parthiv Patel, who was their highest scorer with 53 runs off 41 balls. The only other RCB batsman to reach double figures was tailender Tim Southee who remained unbeaten on 36 off 26 balls. Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi struck the first blow for CSK early on when he dismissed RCB opener Brendan McCullum in the second over. McCullum had gone for a big shot but was fooled by the lack of pace as the ball skied up after finding the toe end of the bat for an easy catch to Shardul Thakur at mid-on. RCB skipper Virat Kohli made a bold move by promoting himself up the order coming out to bat at the one-down slot.
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But his move did not pay off as Ravindra Jadeja struck a big blow with his first ball of the match when he bowled the RCB skipper with a delivery that turned in sharply after pitching. CSK struck another big blow in the very next over when the dangerous AB De Villiers was stumped off Harbhajan Singh's bowling. Jadeja got his second wicket when Mandeep Singh miscued a slog sweep, only to find David Willey at deep backward square leg. Patel however, continued to battle on at the other end bringing up his half-century with a single off Harbhajan in the 12th over. However, he too fell victim to the resurgent Jadeja when a mistimed flick handed an easy return catch to the CSK all-rounder.
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Brief scores: CSK: 128/4 in 18 overs (Ambati Rayudu 32, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 31 not out) vs RCB: 127/9 in 20 overs (Parthiv Patel 53; Tim Southee 36 not out; Ravindra Jadeja 3/18).