Finally, the IPL trophy has come back to its spiritual home, Chennai. The city’s franchise did run into rough waters but it still boasts the best IPL crowds and the most consistent team, which won its third title with a chase that was as much perfection as it was a tribute to their captain MS Dhoni’s philosophies.
Ridiculed as dad’s army for picking players a little long in the tooth, Super Kings won the final on a century from the 36-year-old Shane Watson, all but hobbling through for most of his run runs after having taken 11 balls to get off the mark. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan, champion bowlers both, went for 17 and 24 in their allotment of four overs each, but that brought no panic to Super Kings’ ranks. It was crucial that these two were not given a wicket; a maiden rather than a wicket. Ruthlessly, meanwhile, Watson targeted the young bowlers from Punjab, Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma, who went for 95 in their seven overs.
If the chase was perfection, Super Kings were asked to dig into their defensive reserves when they bowled first. Sunrisers batted a little like Super Kings: take it slow at the start, keep wickets in hand, put pressure on the bowlers and go big at the death. Lungi Ngidi and Shardul Thakur, though, bowled well to restrict them to just 52 runs in the last five overs.
It was the fourth time CSK had beaten Sunrisers in four meetings this season, an emphatic record against the team that had finished top of the league stage.
Summarized scores: Chennai Super Kings 181 for 2 in 18.3 overs (Watson 117*) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 178 for 6 (Williamson 47) by eight wickets