It seems Indian Premier League (IPL) is tailor-made for Chennai Super Kings (CSK). Since in the inception of this tournament, the team from the south coast has won the trophy twice, finished as runners-up four times, and reached semi-finals on other two occasions. Despite being banned for 2016 and 2017 edition, they have come back roaring again in 2018, and reached the final yet again by beating Sunrisers Hyderabad by two wickets in the first qualifier at Wankhede stadium on Tuesday.
Their match against SRH was a low-scoring thriller. Despite restricting the table-toppers for a mere 139 for 7 in their 20 overs, CSK seemed to be heading towards a loss for most part of their batting. But a masterclass from Faf du Plessis and a five-ball cameo from Shardul Thakur meant the two-time champions snatched the win out of SRH's grasps.
Winning the toss, MS Dhoni decided to field in the all-important game. SRH's reliable batting unit was contained by a very disciplined CSK bowling line-up. Shikhar Dhawan was a first-ball duck, and he was soon followed to the pavilion by opening partner Shreevats Goswami.
In between their dismissal, SRH skipper Kane Williamson played some eye-catching shots, as he showed the way forward to bat on a tough Wankhede pitch. But his stay at the crease was cut-short, after he glanced a leg side delivery to Dhoni's hands.
The following batsmen struggled big-time against a disciplined bowling. Shakib Al Hasan seemed to have found his feet, but was dismissed for 12. Soon followed was an out of form Manish Pandey, who managed just 8 of 16 balls.
By the end of 12th over, SRH were 69 for 5 with Yusuf Pathan and Carlos Brathwaite at the crease. It all seemed gloom for the group stage toppers, but the duo held the innings together till the 15th over.
Pathan's calculative innings came to and end for 24. But after that, Brathwaite took charge, and took the score to 139 with his unbeaten 43. For CSK, Dwayne Bravo was brilliant, ending with figures of 2 for 25 in four overs. He was very well supported by Lungi Ngidi and Ravindra Jadeja, who took a wicket each without conceding much runs.
Chasing 140 would have been easy for CSK any other team, but not against SRH. Shane Watson opened the innings like always, but had a different partner in du Plessis.
Their chase started off horribly, as Watson was removed for a duck by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Du Plessis held still at one end, as Suresh Raina took the attack from the other hand. His scored 22 of 13 balls before getting dismissed by Siddharth Kaul.
CSK's middle order collapsed like a pack of cards. Ambati Rayudu was removed for a first-ball duck. MS Dhoni struggled before heading to the pavilion for a 18-ball 9. Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja also couldn't impact the scoring much.
The chase seemed impossible with seven overs to go, as CSK needed 74 more runs with just four wickets. But up stepped du Plessis, and with small support from Deepak Chahar and Thakur, took the two-time champions home.