Suresh Raina's superb ton helped Chennai Super Kings take a giant stride towards qualifying for the knock-out stages as they defeated Kings XI Punjab by 15 runs to win their seventh match on the trot in the Pepsi Indian Premier League at Chepauk on Thursday.
Raina scored an unbeaten 100 in Chennai Super Kings' total of 186 for four and then the bowlers kept their cool to restrict Kings XI to 171 for six despite a brilliant counter-attacking partnership of 95 between between Shaun Marsh, who scored a 51-ball 73 (8x4, 2x6) and David Miller (51 not out, 26 balls, 5x4, 2x6).
The win took CSK's points tally to 18 from 11 matches and they are now all but through to the last four stage of the competition.
The seventh successive win is an IPL record which they now share with Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Needing 19 to win off the last over, Dwayne Bravo bowled intelligently giving away only three runs but more importantly took three wickets to finish with figures of three for 34.
Marsh and Miller were on a 'Mission Impossible' but did play their part admirably well to get close to the target but in the end, 186 proved to be good enough for the CSK juggernaut to roll on.
Haryana medium-pacer Mohit Sharma had dealt a severe blow by removing both openers Luke Pomersbach and Mandeep Singh in quick succession.
It was always going to be a catch-up game for the Kings XI batsmen but credit to Marsh, who grabbed with both hands the chance to open the innings after regular captain Adam Gilchrist sat himself out in the last two matches after a string of poor scores.
Earlier, Raina's splendid century helped title favourites Chennai Super Kings to post a commendable total of 186 for four after opting to bat.
Raina batted magnificently to strike exactly 100 off only 53 balls with the help of seven fours and half a dozen sixes.
The UP left-hander became the third batsman after Chris Gayle and Shane Watson to score a century in the current edition.
Batting on 91 at the start of final over, Raina reached 97 with a brilliant straight six off Parvinder Awana, and then scampered home for a double. Off the penultimate delivery of the final over, he took a single to reach the milestone as the heads totting the stands at the Chepauk gave him a standing ovation.
In the last five overs, CSK pulverised the Kings XI bowlers for 70 runs.
Wriddhiman Saha struck a four and a six during his innings of 18 before he was caught by Shaun Marsh at deep square leg off Awana's bowling.
Hussey and Raina hardly took any risks and yet added 55 runs in only 7.2 overs. While Hussey was content rotating the strike, Raina repeatedly peppered the off-side field with his trademark shots in between the cover and extra-cover arc.
When leggie Piyush Chawla came into bowl, Raina punished him with a huge six over deep mid-wicket. If Raina played the cover dives with consummate ease, Hussey was equally good with the pull shots.
Hussey was out when he tried to give Chawla the charge, only to stumped by wicketkeeper Gurkeerat Singh in the process. Hussey scored 35 runs off 29 balls with three boundaries.
It was a rare failure for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he went for a second run but couldn't beat a throw from bowler Rajagopal Sathish to Gurkeerat, who caught the batsman inches short of his ground.
From 82 for one, CSL lost quick wickets to slump to 91 for three.
However, nothing could stop Raina as CSK completed 100 runs in the first ball of the 14th over.
Raina completed his half-century off 32 balls with a single off Chawla.
The 16th over turned out to be an eventful one as Raina twice hit pacer Manpreet Gony over his head for a couple of sixes to take 16 runs to set it up for the final assault.
Along with Albie Morkel, he smashed 74 runs in just over six overs.