Roars of 'ceeeeesssskkkkk’ drowned the Wankhede as Faf du Plessis invoked his “inner Dhoni”, according to Graeme Smith, and took Chennai Super Kings to the final of Indian Premier League 2018. Despite Sunrisers’ low score, CSK were in trouble after the loss of early wickets. With 43 to win off 2.1 overs and seven wickets down, barely anyone gave CSK a chance, particularly with Sunrisers’ incredible bowling attack but du Plessis and Thakur slammed 27 in eight balls to seal the game with five balls to spare. Here are the best moments from Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium.
Dhoni’s cheekiness goes wrong
The flick onto the stumps is something MS Dhoni popularised in wicket-keeping. It allows the ‘keeper to reduce the time between catching the ball and taking it to the stumps. The maestro has time and again effected brilliant run-outs with his immaculate judgement of where the stumps are.
On Tuesday, though, it went wrong as Sunrisers’ batsmen, Kane Williamson and Shreevats Goswami, stole a third run. Williamson had pushed the ball to deep square leg and Harbhajan Singh sprinted across to stop the batsmen from taking a third.
Williamson, however, wanted a third run after the ball left Harbhajan's hand. It seemed suicidal for a moment as Goswami ran to the danger end with the cheeky MS Dhoni awaiting. The throw came in high and with Goswami still some way out, Dhoni chose to flick onto the stumps instead of carrying it. The ball missed the stumps and the Hyderabad batsman was saved. Had Dhoni gone the conventional route, he would have most likely caught Goswami short.
In big matches you need luck, they say. Sunrisers Hyderabad had none of it at the Wankhede yesterday as two of their premier batsmen — Kane Williamson and Shakib Al Hasan — were dismissed caught by the keeper down the leg-side. While it all counts, the manner in which the duo was dismissed evoked sympathy.
Williamson, who appeared in excellent touch yet again, went for a pull off a wide, leg-side delivery from Shardul Thakur. Unfortunately for him, the bat found only the tip of the ball and the edge carried to MS Dhoni behind the stumps.
Two overs later, it was Dwayne Bravo's turn to choke a batsman down the leg-side. Shakib was cramped for room and looked to swivel and swat a slow ball around his legs. He couldn't get hold of the shot and the ball rolled off his gloves, onto his thigh pads and into the mitts of Dhoni.
Bravo wins return catch competition
There were as many as four return catches in the clash between CSK and SRH with three of them coming in the first innings. Lungi Ngidi took a blinder to send back Shreevats Goswami to begin the return catch fest. A back-of-a-length delivery was swatted back at Ngidi and the bowler crouched low to pull off a wonderful catch.
Ravindra Jadeja added one more when Manish Pandey mistimed a leg-side flick and the leading edge went straight back to the spinner. Unlike Ngidi, Jadeja needed to do little as the ball came at a comfortable pace and height for him to take a simple catch.
Bravo added his touch to the game when he pulled off what can perhaps be a contender for the catch of the season. Yusuf Pathan's ferocious strike down the ground was disrupted as Bravo went low, grabbed the ball close to his ankles with both hands and tumbled over in delight. A stunned Sunrisers Hyderabad dressing room could only watch, gaping in awe as Bravo celebrated with his dance steps.
Sandeep Sharma added a fourth return catch in the second innings, but Bravo's sensational take had already won the competition.
Kaul flummoxes nemesis Rayudu
The two times these sides met in this season prior to this, Ambati Rayudu was a thorn in Sunrisers’ flesh, winning the Man of the Match award in both games with fabulous knocks, one of them a resounding hundred. To stop CSK, Sunrisers had to stop Rayudu and with a low total on board and him coming in at No 4 to oversee the run chase, things were going out of hand until Siddharth Kaul's wicket of Suresh Raina brought Rayudu to the middle early.
The bowler seemed pumped up for the occasion and without waiting to choose the right moment, Kaul unleashed a slow, deceitful yorker that swung in the air and moved away from Rayudu's stunned prod with the bat. The ball moved slowly through the air, went past Rayudu's bat and hit the base of the timber. Kaul had removed the big fish for a golden duck and Sunrisers were well and truly back in the scheme of things.
The six of joy
He isn't your regular finisher. He isn't your regular opener. He wasn't even in the team for more than half the number of matches. Yet, when called upon to do a job, Faf du Plessis stood rock-solid and thwarted Sunrisers Hyderabad with his grit and sheer presence at the crease.
With 23 to win from two overs, du Plessis had little to do as Shardul Thakur and Kaul had a mini-battle in the penultimate over. Kaul consistently eked out edges but it flew either side of the wicket for boundaries and Thakur ended the 17-run over with a brilliant strike over Kaul’s head for four.
With six needed off the last over, CSK were once again favourites to win but they had to deal with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, one of the best death bowlers in T20s. Du Plessis seemed least perturbed and tonked the first ball of the over, a slower length ball, down the ground for six to seal the run chase. Cool, calm, composed. Dhoni in a Faf mask anybody?