Watson century powers Chennai Super Kings to third IPL title
A vintage Shane Watson put up an exhibition of power-hitting in front of a packed Wankhede crowd as he struck a memorable unbeaten century to power Chennai Super Kings to their third Indian Premier League title. His unbeaten knock of 117 capped off a memorable night for CSK as they marked their return to IPL fold after a break of two years with a third title, equalling the record of Mumbai Indians.
Chasing 179, CSK overhauled the target in 18.3 overs, scoring 181/2.
That Watson would singlehandedly knock the winds out of SRH sails seemed a distant possibility when he played 10 straight dot balls before getting off the mark with a powerfully hit boundary straight past the bowler. He lost his opening partner Faf du Plessis (10) but then took over the stage providing a wholesome entertainment. His assault took flight in the final over of the Powerplay when he smacked a six and four off consecutive deliveries from Sandeep Sharma.
Earlier Yusuf Pathan and Carlos Brathwaite picked up the pace in the death overs to add 42 runs pushing the SRH to a competitive 178/6. Sunrisers have been unable to score quickly in the Powerplay overs since entering the qualifiers and the trend continued in the final too as they scored 42/1. In the absence of an injured Wriddhiman Saha, Shreevats Goswami opened the innings alongside Shikhar Dhawan but a needless second run cost him his wicket on 5. After a relatively quiet Powerplay, Dhawan began opening up in the company of his captain Kane Williamson who crossed the 700-run mark, becoming the sixth batsman in IPL history to do so.
With runs hard to come by initially, the pressure of making the full use of fielding restrictions resulted in Dhawan and Williamson going after the bowlers. The initial exchanges went in their favours like a top-edge from Williamson flying over the fine leg boundary for a six but a more authoritative four a ball later set things in motion in the fifth over, bowled by Deepak Chahar. A six more in the next, this time by Dhawan, served as a confidence-booster. Soon the duo raised fifty-run stand but the introduction of Ravindra Jadeja broke their association as a quicker one got the better of Dhawan (26).
But the new man Shakib Al Hasan and Williamson didn’t allow Jadeja to take control with a 17-run over in which the duo hit two fours and a six between them. With Williamson bedding himself in, he was the key as SRH moving along at a brisk pace at 101/2 after 12 overs. Then, Karn Sharma, who replaced Harbhajan Singh in the playing XI, saw Williamson charging forward and outfoxed him with a wide delivery to have him stumped on 47.
CSK might have been thought the fall of Williamson gave them the control back but Yusuf Pathan was in excellent touch. He made his intentions clear from the outset with a clever four to fine leg off the second delivery he faced. Shakib, with two fours and a six, sparkled for a brief period before failing to put away a full toss from Dwayne Bravo to be caught in the covers on 23 off 15. Deepak Hooda had another forgetful outing but his departure worked like a charm for SRH as it brought together Pathan and Carlos Brathwaite together – two of the most powerful hitters of the cricket ball.
At one stage, a score in the 190s looked a real possibility before Lungi Ngidi put that to rest allowing just eight runs in the 19th over including a six off his sixth delivery. He had earlier bowled a maiden in the powerplay overs. It was Pathan who did the maximum damage smacking 45* off 25 while Brathwaite, who at times struggled, still struck unbeaten 21 off 11 with three sixes.