Chennai Super Kings reach IPL final

—Brathwaite’s heroics in vain

The Chennai Super King players celebrate their team’s victory. (Photo courtesy of IPL website)

(IPL) Typical of their campaign this season, the Chennai Super Kings seized victory from the jaws of defeat to acquire a direct pass to the VIVO IPL 2018 Final after they defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by two wickets in Qualifier 1 played at the Wankhede Stadium last evening.

After opting to field, CSK did well to restrict the table-toppers SRH to 139-7. When it was their turn to chase, CSK themselves slipped to 62-6, before Faf du Plessis (67 not out) single-handedly turned things around and took his team past the finish line.

CSK lost opener Shane Watson before they could get a run on the board. Suresh Raina played a few fluent strokes and raced to 22 from 12 balls before he was bowled behind his legs.  The in-form Ambati Rayudu was cleaned up by a perfect yorker the very next ball, and four overs later MS Dhoni was castled by a Rashid Khan googly. A little while later Dwayne Bravo edged the leg-spinner to slip, and Ravindra Jadeja hit one straight back to Sandeep Sharma; CSK were in deep trouble at 62-6.

Carlos Brathwaite’s late order cameo of 43 runs from 29 balls with four sixes and one four was in vain. (IPL website)

Du Plessis, who opened the batting, had watched the CSK innings collapse at the other end. At the end of 13 overs, the South African was 21 from 24 balls, when he decided the moment had come for him to step on the accelerator; he then added 46 runs in 18 balls to guide his team to a win. Shardul Thakur, who had had a forgettable outing with the ball, redeemed himself with a cameo; batting at number 10, he contributed three boundaries in the 19th over– one off the outside edge, one off the inside edge, and a fierce hit over the bowler’s head.

For SRH, Rashid Khan, Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma picked up two wickets each, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck once – in the very first over.

Earlier in the evening, the Sunrisers lost Shikhar Dhawan to the first ball of the match; the left-hander threw his bat at one angled across him, but only managed to drag the ball back onto his stumps. Starting then, the rub of the green went against SRH on several occasions; Kane Williamson (24) and Shakib al Hasan gloved the ball to be caught down the leg-side, while Shreevats Goswami and Yusuf Pathan (24) were at the receiving end of sensational return catches. SRH slipped to 88 for 6 at the end of 15 overs, and it took a late innings blitz from Carlos Brathwaite and his 51-run partnership with Bhuvneshwar Kumar to rescue them to 139-7.

The Chennai Super Kings bowlers were largely on the money. Shardul Thakur came in for tap – he conceded 17 runs in the 18thover & 20 runs in the 20th over – and finished figures of 4-0-50-1. The rest of the bowlers were outstanding; Dwayne Bravo was the most successful bowler with figures of 2-25, while Ravindra Jadeja was the most economical.

For the second time in two matches, CSK reaped the benefit of experience. Du Plessis survived the storm, played out the most difficult bowler in the opposition (Rashid Khan), and turned on the heat just at the right time. The South African was starved of the strike in the first eight overs – during which time he had only faced 9 balls. Yet, he did not lose his concentration and remained focused on the job on hand. In the ninth over, in the first show of aggression, he deposited a short delivery from Brathwaite into the stands. After returning to dots and singles for a brief while, he once exploded in the fourteenth when he collected a four and a six off consecutive deliveries off Shakib al Hasan. In the eighteenth, he got stuck into Brathwaite once again, hitting him for two fours and a six to take his team closer. du Plessis finished the chase in style when he smashed a length ball from Bhuvneshwar Kumar over the bowler’s head into the advertising boards. du Plessis’ 67 came off 42 balls and contained 5 fours and 4 sixes.

Earlier, it was Carlos Brathwaite’s unbeaten 43 that gave the SRH bowlers a total to bowl at. He walked out to bat in the 12th over when his team had lost five wickets with just 69 runs on the board, and took his time to settle down. He dealt in singles early on, and batted to the end. The 29-year old was 8 from 15 balls before the start of the 18th over, when he decided he had seen enough and cut loose. He hit the first two balls of the 18th into the stands at midwicket, at the start of the final over, he got stuck into Shardul Thakur once again, hitting two sixes and a four to help his team finish on a high. Brathwaite hit one boundary and four sixes in his 29-ball outing.

Ravindra Jadeja was CSK’s best bowler in the match. The left-arm spinner generally darted the ball, had an excellent grouping on ball pitch, and seldom gave batsmen any room or length for them to swing their willow. He bowled overs 8, 10, 12 and 14, and finished with figures of 4-0-13-1; his lone victim was Manish Pandey, whose leading edge he gleefully accepted moving swiftly to his right side. Jadeja bowled 14 dot balls in his spell and conceded only one boundary – that too off the last ball of his spell.

Rashid Khan bowled a terrific spell when the Sunrisers Hyderabad had their opportunity to defend. The Afghanistan spinner kept the batsmen guessing with his mixture of leg-breaks and googlies and returned figures of 4-0-11-2. Rashid, who was called on to bowl the 8th, 10th, 12th and 16th over, castled Dhoni neck and crop with a googly and then had the wicket of Dwayne Bravo. The 19-year old’s spell contained 14 dot balls.

Brief Scores:

Sunrisers Hyderabad 139-7 (Carlos Brathwaite 43, Dwayne Bravo 2-25) lost to

Chennai Super Kings 140-8 in 19.1 Overs(Faf du Plessis 67*, Rashid Khan 2-11, Siddarth Kaul 2-32, Sandeep Sharma 2-30) by 2 wickets.

Man of the Match:

Faf du Plessis, for his unbeaten 67 from 42 balls.

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