IPL is back with Chennai Super Kings. The team which was labelled as “dad’s army”, which had it’s home ground changed after two games, and which was returning to Indian Premier League after a gap of two years after match-fixing allegations, laid out the perfect chase by a 36-year-old who took 11 balls to get off the mark but ended with 117 runs. They chased down 179-run target was made to look ridiculously easy by Shane Watson who did not panic for a moment, a trait MS Dhoni has embedded in the Chennai team. Sunrisers Hyderabad was the best team in the league stage, finishing at the top of the table after 14 games but Chennai beat them four times in the season and this was the easiest of them. (Watson scores second IPL 2018 century)
SRH had boosted the best bowling line-up in the tournament with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan as their top bowlers. CSK respected them in the final and played their eight overs for just 40 runs. But Watson & Co. took the other three bowlers — Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul and Shakib Al Hasan — to all parts of the park.
Shane Watson scored his second century of IPL 2018 (fourth overall in IPL) and became the first player to score a century in a successful chase. He was ably supported by Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu as well in the final.
The CSK bowlers set up the match for them by bowling some tight lines and picking up regular wickets in the Hyderabad innings which ended 178 for the loss of six wickets in 20 overs. Neither of the team could win the momentum in the first innings as SRH thought it was a competitive total while CSK were confident of chasing it down on this ground.
That was built when Lungi Ngidi and Shardul Thakur bowled exceptionally well in the death overs. Both the bowlers gave only 52 runs in the last five overs despite SRH having Yusuf Pathan, Shakib and Carlos Brathwaite batting during that phase. Ngidi was exceptional in the 19th over, giving only two runs.
SRH batting similar to CSK by getting off to a slow start. Shikhar Dhawan and Sreevats Goswami opened the innings but the latter was run-out. Williamson continued his good form and hit 47 runs, taking his season to 735, most by any player.
Dhawan and Williamson wanted to charge against the CSK bowlers after hitting just 42 runs in the powerplay. Ravindra Jadeja and Karn Sharma presented the opportunity but Dhawan fell to Jadeja.
Williamson still continued to take boundaries and with him was Shakib who showed how to hit a left-armer. CSK had brought in Karn in place of Harbhajan Singh for this match and he repaid the faith by getting the wicket of SRH captain off a wide ball just when he looked like teeing off.
Just like the wickets for CSK, runs for SRH kept coming. Yusuf joined Shakib and clobbered some boundaries. Deepak Hooda fell cheaply after Shakib but Brathwaite and Yusuf were expected to take them to a big score in the death overs.
Watson had struggled against Bhuvneshwar in the Qualifier 1 as well. Bhuvneshwar was once again terrific against Watson, bowling out a maiden. Shane Watson did not score off the first 10 balls he faced. He then drove Sandeep Sharma for four off the 11th ball. The slow start resulted in the wicket of Faf du Plessis.
Williamson needed one more wicket, ideally of Shane Watson so he persisted with Bhubneshwar, bowling him three overs inside the powerplay. Watson and Raina did not take any risks against him.
When the first bowling change came in the role of Kaul, Shane Watson launched an all-out attack and took 15 of his over. Rashid was the only other threat but with Watson and Raina set, they just played him off.
Both Bhuvneshwar and Rashid did not pick a single wicket despite low economy rate. But Shane Watson and Raina had torn apart the other bowlers, especially Sandeep in the 13th over. By the time Raina departed and Ambati Rayudu came in, CSK needs just over run-a-ball.
Watson scored his second century of the season and Rayudu just kept his cool and sealed the win with a four through the covers on the third ball of the 19th over.