Cricket news - Dhawan ton condemns CSK to sixth defeat of the season

Dhawan remained unbeaten on 101.

Dhawan remained unbeaten on 101.

With the rub of the green on his side, Shikhar Dhawan's free flowing unbeaten 101 off 58 - his first IPL century - carried Delhi Capitals to their seventh win, and the top of the table as they chased down Chennai Super Kings' 179/4 in a final-over thriller. Dhawan was on course to take DC over the line with some comfort, until Marcus Stoinis's exit in the 16th over threatened to turn the tables on DC at the very end. Sam Curran bowled an exceptional penultimate over for just four runs, but Dhoni's Jadeja gamble in the 20th saw DC hit the required 16 off the last six.

How good was the Dhawan show?

Top-notch.

CSK didn't do themselves any favours by offering him three reprieves - when he was on 27, 50 and 79, and he cost them two valuable points that could've given them some breathing space in the mid-table fight they've found themselves in.

Like CSK's Rayudu, Shikhar Dhawan saw the benefits of giving the quicks the charge early on, to pick boundaries off Sam Curran, Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur. Dhawan also very confidently unfurled the cut and pull shot every time the bowlers offered him width, with good effect in Sharjah's short boundaries.

MS Dhoni went one bowler short - relegating Piyush Chawla to the bench - which meant the onus was on Karn Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja to end his flying start and clip DC's wings. Jadeja nearly pulled it off when Dhawan top-edged a slog sweep, but Chahar couldn't get under it at fine leg.

The DC opener toyed with Karn Sharma and his lengths. He danced down to a full ball and hit it straight down the ground, and forced Karn to shorten his length. When the leggie did that, he camped back and cut it through extra cover for another boundary. MS Dhoni had the chance to cut Dhawan's essay right at 50, but he let one edge slip past his gloves to allow the DC opener to carry on past the halfway stage of the chase.

Shreyas Iyer's exit in the 12th over after a 68-run stand didn't change the course of the game - or the route Dhawan had chosen to take today. He carried on in the company of Marcus Stoinis, continuing to drive with disdain and flatbat any short deliveries attempted against him.

How did CSK find themselves with a chance for a late jailbreak?

It came with Stoinis's exit in the 16th over. Alex Carey has played the last two games in the absence of Rishabh Pant and Shimron Hetmyer but hasn't found himself in such a pressure situation as today - when he walked out with DC needing 41 off the last four overs. Dhawan still cut down the deficit with two gorgeous hits against Curran - a pick-up hit over mid-wicket and a six over long-on. He also second-guessed Shardul Thakur and his wide yorker in the 18th over to shuffle across and sweep it to the backward square leg fence.

However, Curran's penultimate over nearly undid all of Dhawan's incredible knock in the space of just six balls. The left-arm pacer nailed the wide yorker throughout the over, giving away just four in it. Despite Dhawan standing tall with a century to his name, DC were left with a mountain to climb in the final over, with 17 to get.

Why did Dhoni turn to Jadeja instead of Dwayne Bravo?

At that time, it did look like a left-field punt, but the CSK captain would later reveal that his go-to death bowler - Dwayne Bravo - wasn't fit to bowl the last over. Between throwing the ball to Karn and Jadeja - both of who would turn the ball into the two left-handers in the middle (Dhawan and Axar Patel), Dhoni picked the latter.

Jadeja stuck to his guns of bowling wide outside the off-stump but Axar connected with each of his three big hits - two over the leg side and one towering six off a fuller, flatter ball over extra cover to close the game.

How were CSK in the first half of the game?

Better than in most games so far this season.

The Curran ploy and the early Faf-Nortje duel

Sending Sam Curran to open didn't yield desired results this time around, as he was hurried with a pacy short ball outside the offstump from Tushar Deshpande. The urge to show intent pushed Curran to take a stab at it, but he ended up top-edging it to Anrich Nortje at third man. Kagiso Rabada started with a maiden over, as CSK were headed towards another passive end to a PowerPlay. But then, Faf du Plessis found his touch again - after a mini three-match slump - to help CSK move on quickly.

The post-PP chaos

Ravichandran Ashwin bowled a series of carom balls and Axar Patel kept Shane Watson on his toes as DC conceded just eight runs in two overs right after the PowerPlay. But once CSK's veteran pair of Watson and Du Plessis got used to Ashwin, they went after him in his second over, fetching 15 runs in the process. They targeted Tushar Deshpande next to fly away to 85/1 in 11 overs.

Nortje and Rabada showed exactly why they've been relied upon so heavily through the season, as they accounted for the dismissals of Watson and Du Plessis. At 112 for 3 in 15 overs, and a couple of more overs left from the two DC quicks, CSK were looking at a total in the range of 150.

What took CSK to 179/4 then?

Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja.

The small dimensions of the ground gave Rayudu enough confidence to stand up tall, and pull a Rabada short ball in front of square. Rayudu also resorted to one of his favourite ploys against the pacers - of stepping down the track and hitting them through the line - with a lot of success. Jadeja threw his bat at nearly everything too, and connected more often than not to finish on an unbeaten 33 off 13. Rayudu went a step ahead with 45* off 25. CSK managed 67 off the last 5 overs to give their bowlers a target to work with.

Unfortunately for them, Dhawan made it look a lot smaller than it really was.

Where do they go from here?

CSK have just a day's break before taking on fellow-strugglers Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi on Monday (October 19). A defeat in that game could all but end CSK's top-four chances. DC have two days before they get a chance to strengthen their grip on a top-two spot, as they face another bottom-half side KXIP in Dubai on Tuesday (October 20).

Brief Scores: Chennai Super Kings 179/4 in 20 overs (Faf du Plessis 58, Ambati Rayudu 45*; Anrich Nortje 2-44) lost toDelhi Capitals185/5 in 19.5 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 101*; Deepak Chahar 2-18) by 5 wickets