IPL 2018: All of sudden, Faf du Plessis turns out to be top billing

Du Plessis had played 49 matches before the landmark of sorts 50th and he showed his ball-hitting capabilities that perhaps surprised his teammates in the dugout, and the CSK fans, but not himself.

Faf du Plessis proved all his worth for the ₹1.6 crore CSK decided to pay him using the right to match option at the player auction in Bangalore.   -  AP

Faf du Plessis was warming the bench for the most part of the IPL-11, which is coming to a close. Initially, though, he was not fielded because a side strain and finger injury were taking time to mend and Chennai delayed his arrival into the scene of action. He played his first match, CSK’s fifth, against the Sunrisers Hyderabad at Uppal on April 22. He opened the innings with Shane Watson, spent 33 minutes in the middle and faced 15 balls before the mesmerising tweaker Rashid Khan had him stumped. On that day, CSK prevailed over the Sunrisers by four runs with Suresh Raina (54 not out), Ambati Rayudu (79) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25) enabling their side to post 182 for three.

The South African captain did not play the `home’ match against Sunrisers in Pune. Though, CSK gave him opportunities against Delhi Daredevils, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Mohali, which was the last match of the preliminary stage.

Du Plessis had played 49 matches before (he has played eight matches for the Rising Pune Supergiant) the landmark of sorts 50th and he showed his ball-hitting capabilities that perhaps surprised his teammates in the dugout, and the CSK fans, but not himself. The fact that he faced 42 balls to make those 67 precious runs reveals the fact that he was forced to defend and be circumspect when his partners were getting ejected from the middle.

Unruffled right through his, du Plessis’ previous high scores for CSK were 71 against Bangalore and 73 against Rajasthan Royals, both in the fourth season of the league at Chepauk. He had four more half centuries before he took the guard at the Wankhede on Tuesday and he proved all his worth for the ₹1.6 crore CSK decided to pay him using the right to match option at the player auction in Bangalore.

READ: M.S. Dhoni: ‘CSK has managed to keep its boys on track’

One could say the glorious uncertainties of the game revealed itself when du Plessis — like Dwayne did in the first match against Mumbai Indians at the same venue — decided to take on Carlos Brathwaite in the 18th, hammering the tall medium pacer for three fours and a six, and then finishing it off with straight six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Clearly, individual brilliance had saved the day for CSK and coach Stephen Fleming emphasised this point, saying: “The game obviously has its ups and downs and turns, but we have had a season where we have won from unwinnable positions. Today was one of those, it seems. It's been individual players who have got us out of trouble and different players all the time. Of course, M.S. is a usual culprit. The player today who hasn't played that much came out on a bigger stage of the tournament, and for Faf to do that is a testament to his skills set and his mindset as well. Sometimes dumb luck: you just pick the guys at the right time and they just play an innings for the team that means so much, and we saw one of those today.”

CSK would be mightily pleased that it did not have to take the flight to Dum Dum and wait for the outcome of the match between KKR and Rajasthan Royals; thanks to du Plessis’ best outing for the men in yellows and quirks of IPL Twenty20!