The Chennai Super Kings roared to their fourth consecutive win and their sixth in the Indian Premier League by drubbing an errant Rajasthan Royals by eight wickets here on Wednesday and maintained their unbeaten run at home this season.
Openers Rahul Dravid (66) and Shane Watson (32) put on 86 runs in 10 overs before Royals collapsed to 147 for six while the Super Kings profited from some slack fielding, apart from mediocre bowling, to make 149 for two in 18.4 overs.
The victory took the Super Kings points tally to 12 from nine matches while the Royals remained on 11 following their fourth defeat in 10 outings.
Starring in the Super Kings' win were opener Michael Hussey (79 not out) and Suresh Raina (61) who added 137 runs for the second wicket after left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati (2 for 22) put the hosts back into the game following the Dravid-Watson partnership. Later, Albie Morkel (2 for 24) struck twice in one over to dash the Royals' hopes.
The Super Kings were on the backfoot initially when Dravid and Watson were going great guns in a wonderful partnership that raised visions of a 170-plus total.
Dravid, in particular, was pleasing to the eye with his orthodox shots as he dominated the stand, with Watson content to bide his time, but never hesitated to go for the big hits.
With the pair prospering, the Super Kings attack wilted a bit until Jakati came on the scene and struck in his very second over when he came up with a brilliant caught and bowled to dismiss Watson, whose departure turned the innings on its head.
Thereafter, wickets fell in a heap as off-spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Suraj Randiv picked up one apiece, with the latter having Dravid caught in the deep as the batsman tried to step up the scoring rate. Jakati added another to his kitty to put the brakes on the Royals.
Bowling the 18th over, Morkel delivered a double blow with wickets off consecutive deliveries to ensure that the Royals wouldn't cross the 150-run mark.
The Royals, despite the bright start, managed just 61 runs for six wickets with four hits to the fence in the second half of the innings as against 86 for none (14 boundaries) in the first 10 overs.
The Super Kings' chase began on a false note with opener Murali Vijay (5) trapped in front by Johan Botha in the very second over.
However, Raina and Hussey batted sensibly and aided by some sloppy fielding, put together a match-winning partnership.
Raina, at 37 for one, offered a difficult chance but Watson failed to latch on at the end of a long run on the edge of the boundary.
That apart, neither Raina nor Hussey appeared in any great difficulty as both matched stroke for stroke with the decisive acceleration coming in the 11th over, bowled by left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi who went for 19 runs as the Super Kings began their sprint to victory.
Both Hussey and Raina duly completed their respective third half centuries in the current IPL. More importantly, they farmed the bowling with maturity without unduly slowing down.
Raina departed in the 19th over, but it made little difference as Hussey struck the winning runs immediately to close the game.
Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne won the toss and elected to bat against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in match 43 of IPL-4 at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Wednesday.
The clash is being seen by many as the battle of heavyweights with the top spot at stake.
If the Royals win, they will catapult to the top of the table, whereas a win for the Super Kings will result in them sharing the number one position on points with the Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians.
Both teams have five wins and three losses to their name but Rajasthan are placed third on the ladder because of a washed out tie against the Royal Challengers Bangalore which provided them with an extra point.