Perfect Comeback! Watson Guides Chennai Super Kings to IPL Title
Chennai Super Kings completed a fairy tale comeback from disgrace to glory, clinching their third IPL title after imposing all-rounder Shane Watson single-handedly hammered Sunrises Hyderabad into submission with a blazing hundred in the final in Mumbai on Sunday.
Reinstated into the IPL after a two-year ban for their team management's role in the 2013 spot-fixing scandal, CSK outplayed SRH by eight wickets with Watson's unbeaten 117 off 57 balls in a high-pressure game being the icing on the cake.
The Australian smashed 11 fours and 8 sixes en route to his second hundred of the season as CSK raced home in 18.3 overs. SRH had posted a challenging 178 for six courtesy Kane Willamson (47 off 36) and Yusuf Pathan (45* off 25).
The other in-form CSK batsman, Ambati Raydu, hit the winning four that led to wild celebrations. Watson also shared a 117-run partnership with Suresh Raina (32 off 24) for the second wicket, ensuring a smooth chase for CSK.
Such was Super Kings' domination over an otherwise formidable SRH that they beat the Willamson-led side four times in as many games this season.
The MS Dhoni-captained side had entered a seventh IPL final and their stellar campaign ended with a record equalling third title, tying them up with Mumbai Indians.
The star of the night was the one and only Shane Watson. The 36-year-old, who previously won the title with Rajasthan Royals in the league's inaugural season in 2008, muscled his way to 50 in only 33 balls and then smashed Sandeep Sharma for 26 runs in the 13th over to make it a virtual no-contest.
It was not surprise that he ended with 555 runs in the season including two hundreds and as many half centuries.
Earlier, Williamson missed out on yet another fifty in a highly successful season as Sunrisers Hyderabad piled on a challenging score after a slow start.
Williamson led his side from the front once again hitting two sixes and five fours in his innings before Pathan pummelled the opposition bowlers in the death overs. Carlos Brathwaite (21 in 11) came up with the much needed big hits towards the end to take his team close to 180.
CSK kept a tight rein on the Sunrisers Hyderabad batsmen initially while also taking a wicket through a run-out. The first four overs saw only one boundary being hit – a turn to fine leg for four by Dhawan off Lungi Ngidi.
Super Kings also struck an early blow when Shreevats Goswami was run out. The fall of the early wicket and a maiden over bowled to Sunrisers captain Kane Williamson by Ngidi kept the score down to 17 for 1 in four.
Deepak Chahar, who was bowling well till then, dug in one short ball to Williamson in the fifth over who smacked it for a six over long leg and then was pulled for a four by the New Zealander.
And when Shardul Thakur too erred in length, he was hoisted over long on by Dhawan for a maximum, taking SRH to 42 for 1 by the end of Powerplay.
Williamson, by now into the groove, drove and scooped Dwayne Bravo for a four and a six in the bowler's first over, and the eigth overall, to increase the run-rate further.
The second wicket partnership reached the 50-mark when it was snapped by Ravindra Jadeja who bowled out Dhawan when the left-handed opener missed a heave on the 25th ball he faced.
The run-rate dropped a bit after his departure and at the half-way mark Sunrisers were 73 for 2.
The promoted Shakib Al Hasan hit the accurate Jadeja for a six and a four to the mid-wicket region after Williamson's leading edge ran away to the boundary so that 17 runs were taken off the left-arm spinner in the 11th over to boost the run rate.
Williamson struck Bravo for consecutive fours in the 12th over and was well in sight of his 9th 50 of the season when Dhoni brought back Sharma who lured him out with a wide ball and got him stumped him off the first ball of a new spell.
The Sunrisers captain, by far his side's major run-getter who also became the third highest scorer in one IPL season, went back after striking two sixes and five fours to leave his side at 101 for 3.
Pathan started in aggressive fashion and put on a useful stand of 32 with Shakib before the latter drove Bravo straight to Raina at extra cover and was caught.
It was later left to Pathan and the big-hitting West Indian Brathwaite to give the total a big boost in the death overs as they added 34 runs in the last three overs.