Gritty fifties from Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson helped Chennai Super Kings outplay Delhi Capitals by six wickets to enter their record eighth Indian Premier League final on Friday.
Chasing 148 for victory, Chennai rode on a 81-run opening stand between du Plessis and Watson to achieve their target with an over to spare in the second qualifier in Visakhapatnam.
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side set up a title clash with Mumbai Indians, who beat Chennai in the first qualifier earlier this week.
The two teams fight for supremacy on Sunday in Hyderabad with three titles each.
Both du Plessis, who made 50 off 39 balls, and Watson, who also smashed 50, started cautiously but took the attack to the opposition bowlers with some clean hitting. The South African captain registered his 12th IPL fifty with the help of seven fours and one six but soon fell to New Zealand paceman Trent Boult.
Watson got to his half-century with a six off Keemo Paul before leg-spinner Amit Mishra ended the Aussie batsman’s 32-ball knock.
Chennai bowlers led by West Indian paceman Dwayne Bravo set up victory after restricting Delhi to 147 for nine. Bravo returned impressive figures of 2/19 from his four overs. He was ably supported by fellow quick Deepak Chahar, spinners Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja who all claimed two wickets each.
For Delhi, Rishabh Pant waged a lone battle and top-scored for Delhi with 38 off 25 deliveries.
Here are all the key stats from CSK’s convincing win:
- There haven’t been any ton scored with the bat this season for them but on Friday night, there was a century for CSK to celebrate.
- Chennai extended their record for the most IPL finals played by a franchise. It now stands at eight. Mumbai Indians are second, having reached their fifth earlier this week.
- It will be a battle of 1 vs 2 again from the group stages.
- Delhi, in their history, had never reached the IPL final and that record is set to extend for one more season. It is still the only franchise among the current 8 to have not played in a final.
- Delhi also extended another unfortunate record.
- In an interesting coincidence, du Plessis has been the man of the match when Chennai qualified for the final for the second consecutive season. He was the player of the match in Qualifier 1 last year when CSK defeated SRH.
- Shane Watson’s innings was a tale of two halves.
- The 81-run partnership between Watson and du Plessis was the highest of the tournament for the first wicket for CSK.
- Harbhajan Singh completed 150 wickets in the IPL, with the wicket of Sherfane Rutherford. He became the fourth bowler to do so after Lasith Malinga, Amit Mishra, and Piyush Chawla.
- In one of the moments of the season so far, Ishant Sharma hit a six to finish the DC innings. It was, of course, his first in T20 cricket.
- There was also a hat-trick of sorts completed on Friday. For the third consecutive season, we will have a final between two sides who will be meeting for the 4th time, with a 3-0 record before that:
IPL 2017: Rising Pune Supergiants beat Mumbai Indians thrice before the final, lost in the final.
IPL 2018: Chennai Super Kings beat Sunrisers Hyderabad thrice before the final, won in the final too.
IPL 2019: Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings thrice before the final, what will happen on May 12?
With AFP inputs