Fifties from Chennai Super Kings openers Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson helped the three-times winners beat Delhi Capitals by six wickets in a playoff on Friday and set up an Indian Premier League (IPL) final against Mumbai Indians.
Having restricted Delhi to a below-par 147 for nine, Chennai cruised home with an over to spare in Visakhapatnam, with South Africa skipper Du Plessis and Australian veteran Watson making identical scores of 50.
Chennai’s clash with Mumbai on Sunday will be a rematch of the first playoff, which Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai side won. Chennai also lost both their league games to Mumbai this season.
Watson turned the aggressor after a sedate start, smashing four sixes and three fours in his 32-ball knock while Du Plessis scored at a brisk rate to lay the platform for an easy chase.
“The way Faf got going, I could take my time getting into rhythm. It took me a little while and Faf batted beautifully, to be able to take on the bowlers at that stage,” Watson said.
“I could take a couple more balls to find my feet. That’s the beauty of cricket, it’s such a team game, you do rely on your team mates at certain moments in time.”
Both players perished immediately after reaching their half-centuries, but the steady Ambati Rayudu ensured there was no late drama with an unbeaten 20 to help Chennai reach their second straight final.
Asked to bat first, Delhi’s batsmen struggled to convert their good starts before Rishabh Pant, the hero of their playoff victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday, took charge with a 25-ball 38 that included a six and two fours.
Delhi found themselves in trouble at 125 for eight when the left-hander perished but they scored 22 runs off the last eight balls to give themselves a fighting chance in the contest.
Pace bowlers Deepak Chahar and Dwayne Bravo as well as the spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh kept the Delhi batsmen on a tight leash during the middle overs and were rewarded with two wickets each.