It finally turned out to be a walk in the park for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) as they overwhelmed Delhi Capitals by seven wickets to enter the final of the IPL cricket tournament at Visakhapatnam on Friday.
CSK will now clash with Mumbai Indians (MI) – in a repeat of the first qualifier clash – in the final to be held in Hyderabad on Sunday. Incidentally this was CSK’s100th win in IPL, the second team to achieve the feat after MI.
CSK scored 151 for four in 19 overs with Ambati Rayudu unbeaten on 20 runs from 20 balls (three fours) in reply to DC’s 149 for nine in 20 overs. From 16 for no loss after four overs to 108 for one in 12 overs, CSK made the easy transition through the efforts of du Plessis and Watson. The first wicket partnership between the South African and the Australian, who opened the innings for CSK, yielded 81 runs with du Plessis being the aggressive partner.
Left-arm medium pacer Trent Boult and Ishant Sharma bowled four tight overs to initially contain the run rate. There was indeed a comedy of errors in the first over of Boult when DC lost a golden opportunity to get either of the opening batsmen run out. In a thorough mix-up du Plessis and Watson were twice found running to the same ends, before better sense prevailed and they regained their respective creases. However an overthrow resulted in the batsmen crossing over for a comfortable single.
Du Plessis showed his aggressive intent very early in the innings when he tried to smash every ball, either medium pacer or spinner. With Axar Patel replacing Boult, du Plessis’ shackles were released and he started scoring freely much to the chagrin of DC players. After du Plessis fell at 81 in 10.2 overs for 50 runs from 39 balls with one six and seven fours, Watson took on the mantle of aggression.
Watson, who was subdued in the first wicket partnership, raced to his 50 from 32 balls with four sixes and three fours. He fell on reaching his half century in trying to hoist leg-spinner Amit Mishra out of the ground for Trent Boult to take a well-judged catch in the deep. When Watson fell with the team score on 109 runs, CSK required 39 runs for victory.
Southpaw Suresh Raina did not last long (out for 11 bowled by Axar Patel), but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni joined Ambati Rayudu at the crease to help his team (the defending champions) to ease through to the final. Dhoni (nine runs, nine balls and one four) fell with four runs required for victory in trying to pull Ishant Sharma to the fence, but Keemo Paul took the catch in the deep.
Earlier, CSK bowlers literally strangulated the DC batsmen except for the second over bowled by Shardul Thakur in which he conceded 13 runs. CSK captain Dhoni won the toss and quickly opted to bowl first. With quick scoring opener Prithvi Shaw falling early for five runs from six balls with one four with the DC score on 21 in 2.3 overs, the other DC batsmen never got going in building partnerships.
Though wicketkeeper-batsman Rishab Pant top scored on 38 runs from 25 balls with one six and two fours, he could not build a fruitful partnership as wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals at the other end. South African born New Zealand all-rounder Colin Munro was the other highest scorer for DC with 27 runs from 24 balls with four fours.
Except for Thakur, who bowled only one over, the rest of the CSK bowlers got amongst the wickets to help their team restrict DC to a low score. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who claimed two wickets conceding 31 runs in his four overs, reached the landmark of 150 IPL wickets.