The bowlers, led by Josh Hazelwood (3/24) and Dwayne Bravo (2/17), limited SRH to 134 after deciding to bowl first on a slow surface.
As happened | Scorecard | Point table
Short of the total, in-form openers ut Turaj Gaikwad (455 off) and Faf du Plessis (411 off) put on a 755-run stand to give CSK an ideal start.
A small push in the middle over made the chase interesting as CSK hit a winning six in 19.4 overs with Dhoni (14 not out for 11) before bringing back memories of his earlier days.
The three-time former champions thus ended the chase, scoring 139 for four, for a believable win by six wickets.
With their fourth win in many games since the tournament resumed, CSK showed that not having a play-off last season was a blip in their successful IPL history.
The Sharjah pitch, which made the high-scoring game last year, had a complete contrast this season, making its slow nature a hard stroke.
Batting in the second innings has been made easier by showing the highest skill of the fast bowlers. The confidence with which he starred alongside star SRH spinner Rashid Khan was most impressive.
আইChennaiIPL #VVOIPL progresses to playoffs! The unit led by Dh @ msdhoni defeated #SRH and became the first team … https://t.co/GZvkOJ9LDI
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He charged the track with Rashid’s second ball and sent it straight to the sixes. He also used his legs well for another shiny boundary against left-arm spinner Abhishek Sharma.
Du Plessis also hit some cracking boundaries before falling on a tired shot.
From 103 commanding for one, CSK dropped to 108 in four, leaving the dressing room a bit nervous.
However, Ambati Rayudu (1 17 off 1 off) avoided an exciting ending for his team with a six and four off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 19th over. MS Dhoni was unbeaten on the other end.
Before that, the SRH innings never got the speed it needed.
Hi Dhiman Saha played some enjoyable shots in his run-ball but most of the SRH batsmen struggled to keep going.
Deepak Chahar’s two sixes in the third over were the highlight of his innings. The first was a hook over the midwicket and the second was like a high straight drive that comfortably cleans the ropes.
His opening partner Jason Roy fell cheap, caught behind Josh Hazelwood when he went for a wild slug.
Captain Ken Williamson hit two fours off 11 balls in his run-a-ball before he got stuck with a full ball in front of Dwayne Bravo which hit the New Zealand pad a bit.
After being caught by Dhoni off Rabindra Jadeja, the well-organized Saha was 74 for four.
SRH, who reached 97 for 4 in 15 overs, needed final improvement in the last five overs.
Abdul Samad (1 off 1 off) and Abhishek Sharma (18 off 1 off) were hit by Hazlewood in the 1st over before hitting some exciting shots.
CSK was great in the death over with just 37 runs.