Visakhapatnam: All-round Chennai Super Kings rode half centuries from Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson to storm into their eighth Indian Premier League (IPL) final as they beat Delhi Capitals by six wickets in the Qualifier 2 at the Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium on Friday, 10 May.
After asking Delhi to bat first, Chennai bowlers put up a superb show to restrict the first time semi-finalists to 147/9.
Chasing a modest 148 for victory, openers du Plessis (50; 39 balls; 7x4; 1x6) and Watson (50; 32 balls 3x4; 4x6) were off to a slow start but recovered in time to share a 81-run stand for the opening wicket.
South Africa captain du Plessis was the aggressor early on and once he got out, Watson took over as Delhi bowlers looked hapless.
Having notched up his his 12th IPL fifty and fourth this season, du Plessis mistimed a pull to Keemo Paul at deep square leg off Trent Boult’s bowling while Amit Mishra had Watson caught by Boult at wide long-off.
Suresh Raina (11) was castled by Axar Patel, bringing skipper M.S. Dhoni to the crease. With 21 needed off 24 balls, it was a cakewalk for the defending champions, although Dhoni (9) got out with two runs required for victory.
Dwayne Bravo was at the crease as the yellow army crossed the target with four leg byes with Ambati Rayudu (20 not out) at the other end and an over to spare. Chennai posted 151/4 in 19 overs.
Chennai will now take on old foes Mumbai Indians in the final in Hyderabad on Sunday, the fourth time the two teams will be locking horns in the summit clash.
Earlier, Harbhajan Singh (2/31) and Bravo (2/19) used their reservoir of experience to good affect while Deepak Chahar (2/28) continued his rich form with the ball as Delhi never got going despite having Rishabh Pant at the crease for more than an hour.
Ravindra Jadeja (2/23) and Imran Tahir (1/28), their best bowler this season, also returned impressive figures.
It was an uncharacteristic innings from Pant who was initially starved of the strike and then kept at bay by the Chennai bowlers as the 21-year old eventually managed 38 off 25 with the help of two fours and a six.
Pant looked to be taking off when he hit Tahir for a four and six in the 17th over which yielded 14 runs. But Bravo bowled a brilliant 18th over in which he gave away just three runs besides accounting for Keemo Paul (3).
Chahar dismissed Pant in the penultimate over with Bravo taking the catch at long-on before Trent Boult (6 off 3) and Ishant Sharma (10 not out off 3) smashed some lusty blows to take the score close to the 150-run mark.
It all started with Chahar trapping young Prithvi Shaw (5) in front in the third over. Harbhajan then accounted for the in-form Shikhar Dhawan (18), the India southpaw giving a healthy edge to Dhoni who took the catch in his second attempt.
Colin Munro and Shreyas Iyer then tried to steady the ship but just when the former was looking good, Ravindra Jadeja had him caught at deep square-leg by Bravo for 27 off 24 deliveries.
Iyer (13) departed soon after, skying a Tahir googly to backward point where Raina completed a good catch. Axar (3) too failed to contribute, holing out to Tahir at third man off Bravo's bowling.
Harbhajan then sent back Sherfane Rutherford (10) and it all looked downhill from there for the first time qualifiers.