Dubai: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) finally displayed the much-needed intent, with a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in an Indian Premier League match here on Sunday. However, Rajasthan Royals' eight-wicket win over Mumbai Indians later in the evening meant CSK failed to qualify for the play-offs for the first time.
The fearless cricket that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni so expected came to the fore as they chased down a target of 146 in 18.4 overs to take their tally to eight points.
Young Ruturaj Gaikwad (65 not out off 51 balls) showed his potential with a maiden fifty.
Gaikwad and veteran Ambati Rayudu (39 off 27 balls) added 67 runs in 8.2 overs for the second wicket to set up the chase.
CSK looked purposeful in their pursuit of a small target.
Gaikwad, one of the most talked-about young players in this league, finally had a good day in office, hitting four fours and three sixes. He looked assured while choosing the loose deliveries as he swept Yuzvendra Chahal for a boundary and came down the track to loft Moeen Ali for a six.
Fittingly, a hooked six by Gaikwad brought CSK's much-awaited win.
Rayudu, at the other end, used Navdeep Saini's pace, as he slashed him over backward point for a six and then again showed intent by charging down the track for a boundary.
Earlier, the celebrated pair of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers were briefly entertaining but CSK managed to restrict RCB to 145/6.
Sam Curran was once again brilliant up front and also at the death, finishing with figures of 3/19 in three overs.
Credit to the CSK bowlers as they conceded only 20 runs in the last three overs and managed to take four wickets.
IPL's most prolific batting pair of Kohli and De Villiers added 82 runs with some great technique against CSK spinners Imran Tahir (1/30 in 4 overs) and Mitchell Santner (1/23 in 4 overs) who kept a tight leash during the middle overs.
Deepak Chahar was once again steady, finishing with 2 for 31 in his four-over spell.
Kohli scored 50 off 43 balls with a four and a six while de Villiers helped himself to a polished 39 off 36 balls. De Villiers hit four boundaries.
The CSK bowlers did well enough to take the pace off the ball which made it difficult for RCB batsmen to score. Yet, Kohli and de Villiers did manage to take control of the proceedings but failed to finish with a flourish.
Devdutt Padikkal (22 off 21 balls) and Aaron Finch (15) couldn't convert their starts. Kohli and De Villiers got together at 46 and first consolidated with their "tap and run" strategy.
However, whenever Tahir flighted the ball, his compatriot de Villiers was quick to reach to the pitch of the deliveries to drive elegantly through the covers.
Kohli had one bowler's backdrive off Tahir and for a good measure lifted Ravindra Jadeja for a straight maximum.
Kohli's off-side play was another lesson for all youngsters as he would just adjust his wrists at the last moment to hit those inside-out shots off the spinners.
With ball stopping and coming off the surface, Kohli never looked out of control during his third half-century of the season.
It took a tremendous diving catch at long-ff from Faf du Plessis off Sam Curran to dismiss Kohli as RCB fell short of 150-run mark.