CSK records 100th victory, enters eighth IPL final

Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson shine with fifties as Chennai Super Kings beats Delhi Capitals by six wickets to reach IPL 2019 final.

Chennai Super Kings players celebrate their victory over Delhi Capitals in Visakhapatnam on Friday.   -  K.R. DEEPAK

After Chennai Super Kings’ defeat in the first qualifier, M.S. Dhoni had noted, with some forthrightness, that his experienced top-order had let him down. He wasn’t complaining a great deal on Friday. Openers Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson scored brisk half-centuries as CSK marched into an eighth IPL final with a six-wicket defeat of Delhi Capitals. After a disciplined bowling effort had helped restrict Delhi to 147, CSK cantered home with six balls to spare at the ACA-VDCA Stadium here. Dhoni’s men will now meet Mumbai Indians in the final in Hyderabad on Sunday.

CSK embarked on the run chase watchfully, scoring only 16 runs off the first four overs. But having eased himself in, du Plessis moved up a gear in the fifth, delicately lofting Axar Patel inside-out over the cover boundary. In the following over, Ishant Sharma was dispatched for three fours in a row. Amit Mishra was then swept fiercely and an off-target Keemo Paul punished. The South African was caught on the square-leg boundary for 50 (39b), the openers having added 81 runs in 10.2 overs.

READ| IPL playoffs: Faf du Plessis flies to save a boundary

At the other end, Watson had similarly taken a while to get going, needing 15 balls to score his first boundary — a generous full toss down leg from Paul that was gracefully steered to the fence. And then the other Watson emerged — that brutal, muscular, unhesitant striker of the cricket ball. Axar was slog-swept into the stands with fury and Mishra, lap-swept. Watson took Paul apart next, clobbering the West Indian for three sixes in the 12th over. Paul felt bowling cutters was the best approach on this surface, but Watson happily dined on them. The Australian fell to Mishra for 50, having done his job.

Chennai Super Kings opener Shane Watson in action against Delhi Capitals on Friday.   -  K.R. DEEPAK

 

Earlier, Delhi struggled for momentum after being put in to bat. Shreyas Iyer had felt this was a better pitch than the one rolled out a couple of days before, but scoring runs proved difficult all the same. CSK bowled 47 dot balls in all, and the first six of the innings wasn't struck until the 16th over.

Delhi’s opening pair was separated quickly. Prithvi Shaw was trapped leg-before for five, missing the ball completely as he sought to pull Deepak Chahar. Shikhar Dhawan clattered Shardul Thakur (who was replacing M. Vijay) for three consecutive fours, but Harbhajan Singh accounted for him in his second over, the left-hander caught behind trying to cut.

READ| Playing with Dhoni has been an honour, says Watson

Only 41 runs were scored in the PowerPlay, and with spin from both ends, life was not easy. Delhi curiously shuffled the batting order that had served it so well, promoting Colin Munro up to three. The New Zealander made 27 before he was caught sweeping Ravindra Jadeja on the square-leg boundary. Much depended on the pair of Rishabh Pant and Iyer. With the run rate stagnating, the Delhi captain thrashed at a googly from Imran Tahir; the top edge was swallowed by Suresh Raina at backward point.

It seemed only a matter of time before Pant cut loose, but the anticipated explosion never truly occurred. CSK tied him down expertly, offering few loose deliveries. Pant batted for nearly an hour, facing 25 balls, but managed only two fours and a six. He was dismissed for a 25-ball-38, caught at long on off Chahar. It took some unlikely, late hits to the fence from Mishra, Trent Boult and Ishant Sharma to drag Delhi past 140. But that score would prove to be vastly inadequate.

CSK skipper M.S. Dhoni with his daughter, Ziva, after the victory against Delhi Capitals on Friday.   -  K.R. DEEPAK