Chennai Super Kings (CSK) stormed into their eighth IPL final with a six-wicket win over Delhi Capitals at Vishakhapatnam on Friday. A fine half-century stand from Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson proved to be the game-changer after CSK bowlers had restricted Delhi to 147. Opting to bowl, CSK curbed Delhi's scoring rate and picked up wickets at regular intervals. DC were given a late surge by their tail-enders but it wasn't enough in the end to usurp MS Dhoni's men.
Here are the key moments from the match:
Dhawan not lucky the second time
Off the fifth over of the innings, Shikhar Dhawan walked down the pitch to greet Deepak Chahar but the bowler cramped him for room and the inside edged bounced near the batting crease before going over the top of the stumps. It was a lucky break for the Delhi Capitals opener who had clearly misjudged the shot.
Next over, he wasn't as lucky when Harbhajan Singh, for the second time this season, dismissed him. Harbhajan came around the wicket and darted in a quick one with the angle. Dhawan went back to cut but could only nick it to Dhoni. The CSK skipper fumbled as the ball popped out of his gloves but recovered pretty quickly to catch it on the second attempt.
Though known for his resilience with the bat in red ball cricket, Ishant Sharma is hardly recognised as a good slogger of the cricket ball. With Delhi Capitals nine down in the final over and Ravindra Jadeja darting balls into the stumps, Ishant, who was Delhi Capitals' No 11 decided to go downtown.
In the penultimate ball of the final over, he stepped out to slam Jadeja down the ground for a boundary with du Plessis making a desperate attempt in vain to stop a four. Ishant wasn't done though as he once again danced down the wicket and lambasted smashed one over bowler's head for a six. Ishant made 10 off three balls ensuring Delhi get a decent finish to their innings.
Du Plessis' terrific stop
In the 17th over of the innings, Imran Tahir had induced a top edge off Rishabh Pant but Deepak Chahar at long-off could neither save a boundary nor pull off the catch as the ball went for a six. Dhoni seemed particularly irked by the effort in the deep but Faf du Plessis soon soothed the captain's nerves with a spectacular effort near the ropes two overs later.
Chahar was hit through long-on by Amit Mishra and the ball seemed headed for a maximum until du Plessis intervened with a brilliant dive near the ropes. He jumped horizontal to the other side of the boundary, caught the ball mid-air and threw it back into the field of play before falling over. It saved CSK four runs as the batsmen could only run two.
The hilarious Faf-Watson mix-up and Delhi's shambolic fielding
The first over of the CSK innings saw an epic mix-up between the overseas opening pair of du Plessis and Shane Watson but they were saved from embarrassment thanks to an equally messy bit of work from the Delhi fielders. Du Plessis tapped Boult to point and Watson took off for a single before realising his partner hadn't run.
Seeing Watson dart out, du Plessis looked to run before backing away and Watson did the same. By this time, Rutherford had thrown the ball at the non-striker's end but there was no one to collect it near the stumps. Colin Munro, backing up from mid-on gathered the ball, but instead of throwing down the stumps at his end, he chose to throw at the striker's end. By this time, du Plessis and Watson were returning to their respective ends. Pant fumbled Munro's wide throw and the batsemen survived.
Watson attacks Paul
Shane Watson had the second worst average for any opener in a single IPL season (minimum 10 innings) heading into this match. Runs had deserted him completely until he gave glimpses of his old self in a superb 96 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. But that was just a small spike in his returns this season as he made scores of 8, 0, 7 and 10 in his next four matches.
At Vishakhapatnam, he got off to a slow start, making just 4 in 10 balls and it seemed like the inevitable – another failure – was due. Even after du Plessis upped the ante and the pressure was off Watson, all he could manage was 27 in 26 balls until Keemo Paul came back into the attack.
Watson wasted no time in going after the West Indian seamer. A short delivery down leg-side was helped on its way for six first ball and a similar short ball next up was smothered through mid-wicket for another boundary. Paul slowed up his pace soon but Watson was up for it. Two sixes off slower balls, one through cow corner and the other over long-off, brought an end to a 25-run over with Watson completing his half-century in 31 balls.