Defending champions Chennai Super Kings produced a clinical performance to beat Delhi Capitals by six wickets in Vizag on Friday and enter their eighth final of the Indian Premier League.
CSK dished out a disciplined bowling and fielding effort to first restrict DC to 147/9 and then chased down the target with ease, reaching 151/4 in 19 overs.
Dwayne Bravo (2/19), Ravindra Jadeja (2/23), Deepak Chahar (2/28) and Harbhajan Singh (2/31) shared eight wickets between them to keep DC in check after opting to bowl.
CSK will play Mumbai Indians in the final of the 12th edition in Hyderabad on Sunday. The two teams have met each other thrice in summit clashes of the tournament earlier with MI finishing on the winning side twice while the Chennai outfit came out triumphant once. While CSK won the final battle in 2010, MI finished on the victorious side in 2013 and 2015.
Chasing the modest total, Faf du Plessis (50 off 39 balls; 7x4s, 1x60 and Shane Watson (50 off 32; 3x4s, 4x6s) got CSK off to a flier, stitching 81 runs in 10.2 overs.
The duo started cautiously before opening up to not allow any DC bowler to settle down. Du Plessis was the aggressor among the duo, scoring 50 off 39 balls with the help of seven boundaries and one six while Watson played the second fiddle initially.
The two openers though were involved in huge mix-up in the first over when they were stuck in the middle of the pitch only to witness the Delhi fielders miss running them out on both the ends.
“I reckon I almost ran three there (the early run-out chance). I have to laugh at myself because it was terrible running,” said du Plessis, who was named man of the match.
But just after notching up his 12th IPL fifty, Du Plessis departed while going for a big shot over deep square-leg off Trent Boult (1/20), only to be holed out by Keemo Paul.
After du Plessis’ dismissal, Watson took the centrestage and struck Paul for one four and three sixes to pile up 25 runs off the 12th over and also registered his half-century off 31 balls in the process. Watson looked in a hurry to finish off the chase and that eventually led to his downfall, caught by Boult off Amit Mishra (1/21) in the second ball of the next over.
Suresh Raina (11) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (9) got out cheaply but Ambati Rayudu remained at the crease to ensure a comfortable win for the three-time champions.
Earlier sent into bat, DC made a shaky start with Prithvi Shaw (5) and Shikhar Dhawan (18 off 14) adding 21 runs in 2.3 overs before the former was caught plumb in front of the wicket by Chahar.
Shaw’s dismissal opened the floodgates as DC lost three wickets in quick time to slump to 75 for four in 11.3 overs.
Dhawan was the next to depart, caught by Dhoni off Harbhajan and then Colin Munro (27) hole out at deep square-leg by Bravo off Jadeja as the Kiwi went for a slog sweep.
Skipper Shreyas Iyer (13 of 18) tried to anchor the innings but he too fell while going for a big shot, caught by Raina off Imran Tahir (1/28) in the 12th over.
To make matters worse for DC, new man in Axar Patel departed in the next over, hitting a short delivery of Bravo straight to Tahir at third man.
Only Rishabh Pant (38 off 25) displayed the grit to fight it out. Pant and Sherfane Rutherford (10) shared 22 runs for the sixth wicket but CSK didn’t allow the Delhi outfit to get any momentum, picking up wickets at regular intervals to rattle their innings.
Rutherford became Harbhajan’s second victim, followed by Paul who was cleaned up by Bravo’s perfect yorker in the 18th over.
The onus was on hard-hitting Pant to take DC to a challenging total but he pressure told on him, as he was caught by Bravo at long-on off Chahar.
Towards the end, Mishra (6 not out), Boult and Ishant Sharma (10 not out off 3 balls) used their long handles to great effect and struck some lusty blows to take the Delhi side close to the 150-run mark. As it turned out, it was a below par score.
What the captains said
CSK captain Dhoni: “Overall a great effort. It was important to get the openers early. There were a lot of left-handers and we had a left-arm bowler, so it was a good bowling effort. Credit goes to Tahir and Harbhajan. It’s up to them to assess conditions and they have to put in the hard yards. We have managed our injuries well this season, thanks to the bowling department we are where we are this season. The openers did the hard yards but I would have liked the openers to score a few more runs!”
DC captain Iyer: ““Definitely, did not get as many runs as we wanted. Lost two wickets in the powerplay and did not recover well. We knew they had a great spin bowling attack. Nonetheless, it was a good tournament for us. Our batsmen did not take the initiative to build partnerships. [About the Delhi pitch] yes, that is something to think about. But cannot really complain about that. As a professional, do not want to give excuses. It’s been a dream come true, learned a lot as a captain. Really proud of the boys, there’s a lot to come from us next season.”