Durban:Suresh Raina's unbeaten 48-ball 94, followed by a clinical bowling display helped Chennai Super Kings beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 52 runs and qualify for the Champions League Twenty20 final, here on Friday.
Opting to bat, Chennai rode on an 81-run second-wicket partnership between Raina and Murali Vijay to post an imposing 174 for four after a long rain-interruption reduced the match to a 17-over-a-side affair. Vijay also made a 32-ball 41.
The Indian Premier League champions then came out with a disciplined bowling performance and restricted Bangalore to 123 in 16.2 overs as Manish Pandey's fighting 52 off 44 balls went in vain.
Paceman Doug Bollinger scalped three wickets for 27 runs, while Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan bagged two for 38.
Chennai thus became the first Indian Premier League side to enter the summit stage of the show-piece event and now take on the winner of the second semifinal between South Australia and Warriors.
Chasing 175 to win, Bangalore were off to a wobbly start as they lost two quick wickets in the form of experienced Rahul Dravid (0) and Robin Uthappa (4) in the second and third over respectively.
Dravid's mistimed drive off left-arm pacer Bollinger went aloft and Albie Morkel tumbled forward to pouch a nice catch.
Morkel then struck in the next over when he got some away movements. Uthappa came forward half-heartedly and finally gave an easy catch to Vijay.
RCB's New Zealander import Ross Taylor then decided to take an attacking strategy and cracked a superb four off Bollinger in the fourth over, but the bowler took revenge in the very next ball.
Taylor went for an ambitious pull on backfoot but failed to connect it properly and Vijay took another easy catch.
Virat Kohli (14) then returned to the dugout leaving RCB struggling at 37 for four.
Kohli tried to flick from the leg stump but played the Lakshmipathy Balaji slower a bit early and Ravichandran Ashwin took a diving catch at midwicket.
Cameron White (13) and Dillon du Preez (1) also failed to give company for long to Pandey, who was waging a solitary battle on the other end.
Pandey cracked four fours and two sixes before Bollinger bowled him out in the 14th over.
After his departure, Chennai did not have much trouble to skittle out Bangalore.
Earlier opting to bat, Chennai were 15 without loss in 2.5 overs, with Vijay and Michael Hussey (6) on the crease, when rain started and the players ran for cover.
The proceedings resumed after a two-hour-and-36-minute delay and Chennai suffered their first loss when medium pacer R Vinay Kumar capitalised on the sodden track in the fourth over.
Hussey tried to send the ball across the rope over the long off but South African Dale Steyn took a beautiful catch.
Raina cracked five fours and six sixes during his breezy stay to help the side accumulate a challenging total. Vijay also extended fine support with a 32-ball 41, which he made with the help of four fours and a six.
Raina then joined Vijay in the middle and the duo started attacking the RCB bowlers on a sodden Kingsmead pitch, where the balls were coming to the bat a bit slowly.
In the sixth over, Raina cracked two huge sixes off Kohli's medium pace. Raina took aerial route to send the second ball of the over to the gallery and then struck him over long on for the maximum again four balls later.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's side were 90 for one after 10 overs.
Desperate for a breakthrough, RCB captain Anil Kumble decided to bring himself to the attack but the legendary spinner could hardly do anything to stop Raina and Vijay both of whom were in rampaging form.
The partnership came to an end when Vinay Kumar scalped his second wicket in the form of Vijay in the 12th over. Vijay could not negotiate a short ball, mistimed the shot and Kohli pouched an easy catch.
Raina completed his half-century in style, cracking a huge six through midwicket in the last ball of the same over.
Dhoni (11), however, departed cheaply after felling prey to Dillon du Preez.
Morkel (5) then walked out to give company to Raina, who continued with his blistering show, taking 19 runs from the 15th over off Kumble, with the help of two fours and a six, bringing CSK total to 152 for three.
Kumble tried out as many as six bowlers, including himself. Vinay Kumar bagged two wickets for 28 runs, while Preez and White took one apiece.