The Super Kings, who had three runaway wins in as many matches in the league so far, made a slow start for a change, thanks to some purposeful bowling by Dale Stein, who made the IPL debut, and the duo of Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar.
But when Dhoni arrived in the middle, with team struggling at 83 for 3 in 12 overs, he made all the difference. In the able company of prolific Aussie batsman Michael Hussey, who hit a purposeful 47 off 37 balls, the Indian one-day captain lifted the Chennai innings with his swashbuckling knock. In the last two overs he scored 37 runs to take the visitors to a total which looked defendable.
Dhoni and Hussey added 95 runs to the fourth wicket in just 47 balls negating the plans of Rahul Dravid who led the team well till the Dhoni blitzkrieg began. In his 30-ball innings Dhoni struck 65 hitting nine hits to the fence and three huge sixes. Enjoying his company Hussey supported the Chennai skipper well and the two took the score to defendable level.
Hussey struck three fours and two sixes in the last match of the IPL that he would play as he returns home to play against West Indies. It was a fruitful stay for the Australian batsman in the cash-righ league which included a fine century in the opening match.
In a brutal mood, Dhoni spoilt the analysis of Stein in the 19th over of the match hitting the South African tearaway to three fours and a huge six to milk 24 runs from that over. The final over from Zaheer was no different as Dhoni hit two fours and a six before holing out to the hands of substitute Vinay Kumar. However, by then the captain had completed his job of taking Channai to a respectable score.
Stein, who oozed confidence to the Bangalore attack which looked ordinary in the two home matches hitherto, gave a perfect start to the local team by conceding just eight runs in his first spell of two overs. He got good bounce and moved the ball menacingly troubling the Chennai openers. Zaheed and Praveen also bowled well within themselves and the Challengers looked comfortable in halting the Chennai progress.
Parthiv Patel and opener Matthew Hayden were kept in check by the opening bowlers and despite hitting two boundaries in the second over off Zaheer, the Aussie looked ill at east for the first time and was lucky not to depart early.
But he had to leave off a Zaheer delivery pulling one into his stumps. Parthiv also found the going tough and departed caught well by Kallis in the slips to give Praveen his only wicket.
Hayden"s dismissal slowed down things for Chennai as the local bowlers enjoyed a brief spell of lull as the next five overs costing them just 35 runs.
Suresh Raina 28 (17b, 2x6, 1x4) again impressed with his fast scoring rate and hoisted B Akhil and Kallis into the stands.
Zaheer who took two wickets in the last over returned with three for 38, while Praveen remained the most economical conceding 29 off his four over quota.