du Plessis stands firm to guide the former champion to its seventh final
Faf du Plessis fashioned a splendid win for Chennai Super Kings against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 1 of the Vivo IPl 11 here on Tuesday.
Chosen ahead of Sam Billings, the South African captain playing his fifth match in this year’s league, lifted a straight six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar off the last ball of the 40th over of the match to deliver a terrific win for CSK to have a shot at the title for the seventh time.
In the end, Shardul Thakur enjoying the luck of streaky shots contributed his bit, but du Plessis, who saw teammates cave into pressure and some skilful bowling, showed the calmness and capacity to play a lone hand and lead his team to victory.
Until du Plessis stepped up in an authoritative manner to change the course of the match, the Sunrisers seam and spin attack, in particular leg spinner Rashid Khan, seemed to have sealed the fate of the match by reducing CSK to 92 for seven.
The Afghan’s fascinating exhibition of slow wrist-spin bowling came after the Sunrisers seamers — Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Siddharth Kaul — had knocked over the in-form CSK top order.
On a roll against the Sunrisers in the preliminary rounds, the Chennai side was in control after it chose to field upon winning the toss.
Things did not forebode well for the Sunrisers right from the first delivery sent down by an efficient manipulator of the seam in Deepak Chahar. His off-stump line was just about tempting for Shikhar Dhawan to deploy his bat in a horizontal manner and he under-edged the cut shot on to his stumps.
Kane Williamson, whose fantastic accumulation of runs has been chiefly instrumental in his team advancing to the play offs, counter-attacked by hitting a flurry of boundaries. But in a matter of minutes, fortunes swung back in the Chennai team’s favour when Shreevats Goswami, Williamson and Shakib Al Hasan departed in quick succession with the last two becoming on-side victims, nicking the ball to the keeper.
The Chennai side took firm grip when Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan left the scene of action.
Winning a selection in the team for the second time this season, Carlos Brathwaite launched a blistering attack in the last three overs by clobbering four sixes. He made an unbeaten 43, but more importantly took his side from a dismal looking 88 for six to a set a target of seven an over for a team looking to enter the final for the seventh time.