The Chennai Super Kings again underlined their class and batting prowess with opener Murali Vijay smashing a 58-ball 113 (15x, 4x6) as they drubbed a wayward Delhi Daredevils by 86 runs here Friday to set up a title clash with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
In making their fourth final in five attempts, the Super Kings scored the season's highest total of 222 for five after Daredevils skipper Virender Sehwag opted to field first on winning the toss.
The decision backfired as the visitors, having dropped their star bowler and tournament's highest wicket-taker Morne Morkel, struggled to contain the mercurial Super Kings batsmen.
In reply, the Daredevils, having again shuffled their batting order, were never in the hunt and the loss of David Warner (3) in the third over and Sehwag (1) in the next virtually sealed their fate as they were bundled out for 136 with Mahela Jayawardene (55) playing a lone hand.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin came away with three for 24 while left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati picked up two for 40 after seamers Ben Hilfenhaus and Albie Morkel had made early inroads with the new ball.
The Super Kings, having run into top form, outclassed their opponents in a display that will straightaway make them favourites to win the final on Sunday.
The Daredevils lost the plot at the start itself. Leaving out Morkel in preference to all-rounder Andre Russell raised eyebrows. Worse still, including local off-spinner Sunny Gupta for his first IPL game and giving him the new ball proved a disaster as he went for 47 runs in his four overs, including 24 in his first two that sent the Super Kings on their way.
The visitors opened with Warner and Jayawardene, instead of Sehwag, in a move that also flopped. Warner fell to fellow-Aussie Hilfenhaus, Eught in the deep by Vijay while Sehwag, playing across the line to Albie Morkel, spooned a catch to Michael Hussey who took a brilliant, running catch.
The Daredevils never really recovered from these early blows. No.4 Ross Taylor (24 off 14) used the long handle to provide some momentum, but could not sustain it and he departed caught in the deep while attempting another big hit.
At the other end, Jaywardene batted quite beautifully with well-timed shots to keep the Daredevils in the game, but with wickets falling, there was only so much that the Sri Lankan star could do.
The Super Kings virtually sealed the issue when Jayawardene, attempting a reverse hit, was bowled by Ashwin and off the next ball, Venugopal Rao (0) was run out, backing up. It was all over bar the shouting as the Delhi tail folded up.
Earlier, Vijay and Michael Hussey (22) took heavy toll of the depleted Delhi bowling to put on 68 runs in eight overs for the first wicket. Thereafter, Vijay and Suresh Raina (27) added 59 for the second wicket to provide a solid platform for a big total.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, coming in at No.4, blasted a 10-ball 23 while Vijay at the other end batted with panache as he went on to complete his second IPL century and the first of the current season.
Vijay did chance his arm and rode his luck, but on the day, he was in imperious form, hitting through the line and timing the ball to perfection.
Later, West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo carved a 12-ball 33 in his 39-run stand with Vijay who was the last to be out, caught short of the crese attempting a second run, but by then, the match was totally in the Super Kings bag.
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