Du Plessis stars as Chennai trump Rajasthan

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A fine half-century from Faf du Plessis and the characteristically cool, calm and collected finishing of Mahendra Singh Dhoni carried Chennai to a tight seven-wicket win over the Rajasthan Royals

A fine half-century from Faf du Plessis and the characteristically cool, calm and collected finishing of Mahendra Singh Dhoni carried the Chennai Super Kings to a tight seven-wicket win over the Rajasthan Royals in Saturday's thrilling Indian Premier League fixture at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk.

Set a testing target after Rajasthan had shrugged off the initial brakes orchestrated by the home slow bowlers, Chennai were always in the hunt on the back of du Plessis' third half-ton of the tournament.

The talented South African batsman welcomed a top score of 73, striking six boundaries and a couple of sixes across his brisk 52-ball stay at the crease. The half-centurion – and Man of the Match – enjoyed good support from Suresh Raina, who bounced back from a duck in Chennai's previous match against Pune to weigh in with a complementary 26 from 24 during a 61-run alliance alongside du Plessis.

The defending champions' chase was somewhat hindered when Kevon Cooper, back in the side after recovering from injury, removed du Plessis and Raina in the same over.

With both established batsman back in the hut and 30 runs off the final 21 balls of the match, the ask didn't seem too all for the Super Kings. However, a tight finish soon became apparent as Dwayne Bravo and Dhoni struggled to find the fence with nearly enough regularity to ensure an easy win.

Cooper delivered the penultimate over, conceding a mere eight runs and left Stuart Binny as many to defend across the final six balls of the cliffhanger. Some tight line across the first five, which brought only six runs, ultimately took a back seat to a wayward final ball. Dhoni, well aware of what was needed, duly tucked the winning two runs through the on-side to seal the deal for his Chennai franchise.

Earlier, a half-ton from Owais Shah and 36 from Ashok Menaria was as good as it got for Rajasthan amid spin twins Shadab Jakati and Ravichandran Ashwin's collectively economical approach. The duo conceded just 31 runs from their combined six overs to ensure that seamers Nuwan Kulasekara and Doug Bollinger's tight work at the top of the attack did not go to waste.

Saturday's result saw Chennai rise to third in the nine-team standings, while Rajasthan remained rooted at second.

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