Watson & Dhoni lift Chennai to 13-run win over Delhi in IPL
PUNE: Shane Watson and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit belligerent half-centuries as Chennai Super Kings beat Delhi Daredevils by 13 runs in the Indian Premier League on Monday.
Watson survived a close lbw television referral off Trent Boult's first ball to smash 78 off 40 balls, and Dhoni hit his third unbeaten half-century in the tournament, 51 off 22 balls, in Chennai's challenging total of 211-4.
Delhi was restricted to 198-5, always lagging behind the asking rate despite late half-centuries from Rishabh Pant (79) and Vijay Shankar (54 not out).
Chennai topped the table with six victories from eight matches. Delhi was at the bottom after losing its sixth match.
"It's very important for us to get off to a good start, not necessarily in terms of runs, but even a good partnership," Dhoni said. "I can promote myself and come out at No. 5. It's more fun when you go into the eighth and 10th overs and the bowler doesn't know when you will go for the big runs."
Watson and Faf du Plessis (33) gave Chennai a solid start of 102 runs off 65 balls against some wayward bowling by the Delhi seamers.
England's Liam Plunkett (0-52) and Boult (0-48) conceded 100 runs between them off just seven overs, after Delhi captain Shreyas Iyer won the toss and opted to bowl first.
Watson hit seven sixes and four boundaries and was well on course for his second century of the season until he holed out in the deep in the 14th over.
Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu (41) then featured in a 79-run stand off just 36 balls against the leaky Plunkett and Boult.
Dhoni, who was dropped by Colin Munro on 31, went on to smash five sixes and two fours. Rayudu hit a six and five boundaries before he was run out off the penultimate ball of the innings.
Delhi stuttered to 74-4 in the ninth over of its run-chase that included the key wickets of skipper Iyer and Glenn Maxwell.
Fast bowler Lungi Ngidi (1-26) had an impressive IPL debut while another new pace bowler KM Asif (2-43) removed both openers Prithvi Shaw (9) and Munro (26) in his opening spell.
Pant and Shankar shared 88 runs in a fifth-wicket stand until Ngidi had Pant caught at deep cover in the 18th over. Shankar reduced the margin of defeat by hitting Dwayne Bravo (0-43) for three sixes in the 19th over.
"We got really close which is a positive we can take into the next match," Iyer said.