Shane Watson’s brilliant, unbeaten 117 blasted the Sunrisers back into darkness to help the Chennai Super Kings win IPL 2018
In a truly remarkable innings, he smashed eight sixes and 11 fours off 57 balls to almost singlehandedly carry the Super Kings to their third IPL title. Watson actually scored nothing off his first 10 balls; so in effect, he scored that 117 off 47 balls.
They won by eight wickets, with nine balls remaining after being set a less-than-challenging target of 179, thanks in part to Proteas quick Lungi Ngidi, who conceded 26 runs from his four overs.
In nine seasons, the Super Kings have reached nine playoffs and seven finals; winning twice before, in 2010 and 2011. This is their first season back after they were handed a two-year suspension in 2015.
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.
The Sunrisers may have harboured some hope when they first dismissed Faf du Plessis, the hero of the qualifier, for 10, while reining in Watson. Chennai had only 16 runs off the first four overs.
But that was about it, for Watson then proceeded to smash 50 off the next 23 balls and the Super Kings were rolling. Once in his stride, Watson then took 26 off Sandeep Sharma’s final over, with three consecutive sixes and two fours, which more or less sealed the game. Sharma was on 1-25 before that final over; he ended with 1-52. The run rate crashed from 9.37 to 6.8.
Suresh Raina was an almost passive partner, easing to 34 off 24, with just two fours and a six in a stand of 117 in nine overs. When he fell, with the score on 133 in the 13th over, it was left to Ambati Rayudu (16) to provide the moral support as Watson continued his savage attack.
Sent in to bat, the Sunrisers got off to a steady, if not spectacular start, scoring 42 in the powerplay. They may have had more but for the continuing excellence of Ngidi, who produced a maiden over and conceded just eight runs from his first two overs.
He came back at the death and again applied the brakes, taking 1-18, and that was due to Carlo Braithwaite smashing a six off the last ball he delivered.
Despite that start, Sunrisers could never get going, although midway through the innings they looked as though they might accelerate away, taking 17 off one over from Ravindra Jadeja (1-24 off two) and punishing some sloppy work by Dwayne Bravo (1-46 off four) and Shardul Thakur (1-31 off three); all of which undermined Ngidi’s 1-26 and Deepak Chahar’s 1-25.
Kane Williamson seemed to be back to his best, racing to 47 off 36 (five fours, two sixes) and putting on 51 with Shikhar Dhawan (26) after the early run-out of Shreevats Goswami, until he became a little too ambitious and was stumped as he charged down the pitch to Karn Sharma. Still, he managed to become just the fifth batsmen to pass 700 runs in a season, joining David Warner, Chris Gayle, Michael Hussey and Virat Kohli.
Yusuf Pathan (45 off 25) and Braithwaite (22 off 11) gave the innings a bit of muscle at the end, although they could manage just 18 off the last two overs. Nowhere near enough.