MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo provided end-of-innings heroics as reigning champions Chennai Super Kings maintained their 100 per cent record in the 2019 Indian Premier League with an eight-run triumph over winless Rajasthan Royals.
Dhoni was chiefly responsible for lifting the Super Kings from 27-3 to 175-5, the former India skipper - who was dropped by Krishnappa Gowtham on 28 - accelerating superbly to 75 not out from 46 balls as Chennai blasted 60 from the final three overs of their innings, with Bravo contributing 27 from 16.
The Royals recovered from a poor start of their own in reply and needed 12 from the final over with Ben Stokes (46 off 26) and Jofra Archer (24 not out off 11) at the crease and scoring freely.
However, Bravo dismissed Stokes with the first ball of the last set of six and gave up only three runs with his remaining deliveries to secure another CSK triumph.
Rajasthan's defeat was particularly harsh on Archer, who returned 2-17 in a superb bowling performance before helping to keep the game alive with the bat.
Archer even kept things tight at the end of Chennai's innings with Dhoni in full flow, giving up just eight runs in the 19th over. Unfortunately for the Royals, the 18th and 20th overs - bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni and Jaydev Unadkat - went for 24 and 28 respectively, Dhoni hitting the last three legal deliveries for six.
Unadkat finished with horrendous figures of 1-54 from four overs, having also bowled two wides at the death.
RAHANE CONVINCED A WIN NOT FAR AWAY
The Royals' search for a first triumph in 2019 goes on after a third narrow defeat from as many matches.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who fell for a second-ball duck at the start of the chase, said: "I think what cost us was the last five overs [of the Super Kings' innings]. We all know when MS bats in that situation, it's very hard for any bowler.
"Winning the small, small moments, that's what matters. I think we are playing some good cricket, some luck with us and I think we can change that tide."
AGELESS TAHIR STILL PUTTING BATSMEN IN A SPIN
Imran Tahir turned 40 earlier this week, but the South Africa spinner remains one of the best bowlers in T20 cricket.
Tahir returned 2-23 from four overs and claimed the important scalps of Rahul Tripathi (39) and Steve Smith (28) to join Bravo and Yuzvendra Chahal at the top of the tournament's wicket-taking charts.