After restricting Royal Challengers Bangalore to a modest 139, Chennai Super Kings, guided by Nehra’s 3-28 and Hussey’s half century reached their sixth IPL finals. Despite a few batsmen getting out to rash strokes, Mike Hussey and Dhoni played sensibly to chase down a tricky target on a slow track at Ranchi.

However, as both got out towards the end, it went down to the last over. But when Ashwin flicked a single behind the square off the penultimate delivery, RCB’s faintly flickering hope of a super over was snuffed out.

RCB’s batting collapse and a below-par fielding performance in their most crucial match was the primary reasons of their undoing against CSK. But here are the reasons why Chennai won this match:

1) MS Dhoni’s captaincy
After winning a crucial toss, Dhoni bowled first, taking into account the dew factor and the number of spinners in his team. When Gayle decided to wait for the slow left-arm bowlers, Dhoni continued with Raina, resulting in the big man losing both his patience and his wicket.

Dhoni’s innings of 26 off 29 deliveries might look sluggish. But it was what the team needed. Hussey was batting exceptionally well at the other end. Dhoni knew he just had to stay in there and rotate the strike. He knew he was not in the form of his life, so he let Negi dominate the strike after Hussey’s dismissal. Negi responded with a huge six in the eighteenth over, making things simpler thereafter.

Of course, credit must also go to the rest of the team and the largely unchanged team management for this phenomenal achievement. But unlike other IPL teams, CSK is the only one that is yet to change its yellow jersey and, more importantly, its captain. Dhoni, undoubtedly, has remained the central figure for CSK.

2) Mike Hussey’s Mike Hussey-like innings
If it was someone else other than Hussey, you would be really surprised by the quality of the innings. He hadn’t played until the previous three matches. He did not play any sort of cricket for five months until he was in CSK’s playing eleven in their last league stage match. He is just a few days shy of turning 40. He had scored 1 and 9 in his last two innings. It was not fair to expect him to score a match-winning knock in a knock-out match. But this has been Hussey’s strength: chasing down tricky targets. If not him, then who?

His construction of 56 began slowly. He took some time to get in on a slow track. He read the pitch well and realised the importance of rotating the strike. He knew that it would be difficult to score from the big shots. But later, once he looked set, he launched a couple of sixes. With Dhoni not in his best form, Hussey took up the responsibility of playing the big shots.

3) Ashish Nehra’s shrewd spell
On a slow surface that did not offer much assistance to the fast bowlers, Ashish Nehra, for the most part, tried bowling wicket-to-wicket. He pitched it fractionally short of good length, making it difficult for the batsmen to play their shots. He strayed slightly towards the off-stump in the third over to Kohli and got hit for a four and a six, consecutively, but came back in the fifth over to take his revenge by bowling at his hips. Kohli unwittingly played it into Mohit Sharma’s safe hands at fine leg.

Nehra’s next wicket, of AB de Villiers, was the most important one, although it was a contentious decision. Nehra swung the ball in at nearly 140 kmph, catching AB off-guard. On a pitch like this, de Villiers would have made the difference between the two sides had he stayed. But Nehra fixed him with an in-swinger that rapped on AB on his back pad.

Chennai Super Kings (140 for seven in 19.5 overs) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (139 for eight in 20 overs) by 3 wickets.