MUMBAI: South African skipper Faf du Plessis pulled off a ‘Houdini Act’ to guide Chennai Super Kings to their seventh Indian Premier League final with a two-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in what has been a fairy tale comeback in the cash-rich league.
Chasing a modest target of 140, CSK were down in dumps at 92 for 7 before Du Plessis (67 off 42 balls) engineered a stunning comeback and fittingly finished the match with a straight six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
With 43 needing off last three overs, Du Plessis, who opened the batting, launched into Carlos Brathwaite’s 18th over smashing him for 20 runs which included two sixes and two fours. Having done precious little in the tournament so far, the stylish right-hander put his hand up when it mattered most.
Siddarth Kaul bowling the 19th over paid for his inexperience in crunch game as 17 runs came off that over as no 10 Shardul Thakur (15 off 5 balls) got three boundaries including a streaky one. Then it was Du Plessis, who finished the match having hit five fours and four maximums. Banned for two seasons on charges of corruption, the most successful franchise in the history of T20 cricket played like a team possessed with their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni once again at the forefront with calm demeanour.
However, Sunrisers bowlers do deserve credit for making a match of a small total but this time their luck ran out in the end.
Shane Watson (0) edged one off Bhuvneshwar Kumar while Kaul (2/32) castled Suresh Raina (22 off 13 balls) and in-form Ambati Rayudu (0) off successive deliveries.
MS Dhoni failed to read a googly from Rashid Khan while Dwayne Bravo was done in by extra bounce edging one to Shikhar Dhawan at slips.
Du Plessis waged a lone battle as wickets fell in a heap at the other end with Sandeep Sharma getting rid of Ravindra Jadeja and Deepak Chahar.
Earlier, CSK bowlers utilised the lively conditions to the fullest restricting Sunrisers Hyderabad to a modest 139 for 7 after being put into bat.
Effective seam bowling in Powerplay overs swung the game towards two-time champions early on in the innings and they never let it slacken except towards the end when Carlos Brathwaite (43 off 29 balls) laid into Shardul
Thakur. Skipper Kane Willamson (24), Yusuf Pathan (24) and Brathwaite (43 in 29 balls) were the useful contributors for Sunrisers on a track that offered good bounce.
scoreboard: SUNRISERS HYDERABAD: S Dhawan b Chahar 0, S Goswami c&b Ngidi 12, K Williamson c Dhoni b Thakur 24, M Pandey c&b Jadeja 8, Shakib c Dhoni b Bravo 12, Y Pathan c&b Bravo 24, C Brathwaite not out 43, B Kumar run out 7. EXTRAS: (0b 0lb 0nb 0pen 9w) 9; TOTAL (in 20 overs) 139-7. FALL OF WICKETS: 1-0, 2-34, 3-36, 4-50, 5-69, 6-88, 7-139. BOWLING: D Chahar 4-0-31-1, L Ngidi 4-0-20-1, S Thakur 4-0-50-1, D Bravo 4-0-25-2, R Jadeja 4-0-13-1.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS: S Watson c Goswami b Bhuvneshwar 0, Du Plessis not out 67, S Raina b Kaul 22, A Rayudu b Kaul 0, MS Dhoni b Rashid 9, D Bravo c Dhawan b Rashid 7, R Jadeja c&b S Sharma 3, D Chahar c Brathwaite b S Sharma 10, H Singh run out Rashid 2, S Thakur not out 15. EXTRAS: (0b 2lb 0nb 0pen 3w) 5; TOTAL (in 19.1 overs) 140-8. FALL OF WICKETS: 1-0, 2-24, 3-24, 4-39, 5-57, 6-62, 7-92, 8-113. BOWLING: B Kumar 3.1-0-14-1, S Sharma 3-0-30-2, S Kaul 4-0-32-2, C Brathwaite 3-0-31-0, R Khan 4-0-11-2, Shakib 2-0-20-0.