The Chennai Super Kings fixed their date with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Oppo CLT20 2014 Final after they defeated Kings XI Punjab by 65 runs in the second semi-final played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad. Neither team was ready to concede an inch in the first half, but CSK forced their way to a competitive 182 for 7 and then imposed themselves all over their opponents, bundling them out for 117. (Also Read: QUICK STATS: SF2 - KINGS XI PUNJAB V CHENNAI SUPER KINGS)
If Kings XI Punjab were found wanting on the field, CSK pouched everything that came their way, and that played a huge role in them decimating their opponents. Brendon McCullum pulled off a stunner to send back opener Virender Sehwag, MS Dhoni took a tumbling catch down the leg side to dismiss Glenn Maxwell, Faf du Plessis took a good catch running backwards to see the back of Manan Vohra and McCullum clung on to a sharp chance of George Bailey at short cover.
Scoring runs against a disciplined bowling attack, which was complemented by a very energetic fielding unit, in a knockout match, was a difficult task by itself. That task got tougher with KXIP losing wickets continuously. Just past the half-way mark in the run-chase – when David Miller was castled by R Ashwin – the scoreboard read 61 for 7; at that point, the contest was all but killed. Akshar Patel, batting at number eight, kept the CSK bowlers at bay for a brief while and finished the top-scorer with 31; the 20-year old added 29 runs in the company of Karanveer Singh – the highest partnership of the innings – before he was castled by a Suresh Raina off-break.
KXIP were eventually bowled out for 117 in the 18.2 overs. Ashish Nehra finished with impressive figures of 3-0-9-2, while Mohit Sharma, Pawan Negi and Suresh Raina picked up two wickets apiece.
Earlier in the evening, the Chennai Super Kings – who were asked to take first strike - were rocked very early in their innings when they were reduced to 41 for 3 by the end of the sixth over. Parvinder Awana dismissed Dwayne Smith and Suresh Raina, while Thisara Perera accounted for Brendon McCullum.
However, unlike most other teams who would sit back and focus on consolidation, CSK were not ready to lie back and let their opponents to call the shots. Faf du Plessis, who made his way back into the CSK XI, and Dwayne Bravo, helped their team’s recovery through a counterattacking partnership. The pair added 65 runs in 7.4 overs, with both batsmen matching each other stroke for stroke. du Plessis contributed 34 runs and hit five boundaries in the partnership, while Bravo struck three boundaries and a six and chipped in with 31 runs. The association was broken in the fourteenth over when du Plessis, on the brink of his half-century, was castled by Akshar Patel. The South African made 46 from 33 balls and CSK were right back on track at 106 for 4 after 13.4 overs.
Soon after du Plessis was dismissed, Bravo began to call the shots. The Trinidadian – who was gifted a few runs through overthrows – played some stunning strokes and contributed 25 runs to his 35-run partnership with Pawan Negi (who was promoted to number six).
KXIP clawed their way into the match through the dismissals of Negi and MS Dhoni – giving Parvinder Awana (who had earlier dismissed Suresh Raina off the last delivery of his previous over) a hat-trick. Bravo – who was let off on 8 and 30 - continued to flourish, until he was dismissed in the nineteenth over; he consumed 39 deliveries for his 67 (needing only 17 balls for his last 36 runs) and hit seven boundaries and three sixes – in the process registering his first half-century in the CSK jersey.
Ravindra Jadeja’s blitz at the end – 27 from 13 balls (aided with two fours and two sixes) – helped CSK to a competitive 182 for 7.
Parvinder Awana was the pick of the KXIP bowlers, returning with figures of 4 for 30, while the left-arm spinner Akshar Patel returned with acceptable figures of 2 for 30 from his four overs. Anureet Singh, Thisara Perera and Karanveer Singh collectively conceded 121 runs in twelve overs.
Chennai Super Kings win by 65 runs
Brief Scores: Chennai Super Kings 182-7 in 20.0 Overs (Faf du Plessis 46, Dwayne Bravo 67, Ravindra Jadeja 27*, Parvinder Awana 4-30, Akshar Patel 2-30) defeated Kings XI Punjab 117 in 18.2 Overs (Akshar Patel 31, Ashish Nehra 2-9, Mohit Sharma 2-14, Pawan Negi 2-28, Suresh Raina 2-10)
Man of the Match: Dwayne Bravo, for his 39-ball 67.
Dhoni: "I'm glad we've performed this way, especially in this tournament. I think Faf and Bravo's innings were crucial. The runs on the board were crucial. I thought 160+ was a par score. I felt there was a bit of uneven bounce in the pitch. I felt it was a bit of a difficult pitch to score runs off, but I was still worried with KXIP's firepower. I'm happy the guys responded in a positive way. I'm looking forward to the Final. It will be a crucial game for us."
Bailey: "It's a big game and we're disappointed to lose. We saw tonight that CSK could still get to 180 even without 4 of their big players getting runs. The pitch played nicely, and there was still plenty of runs out there. We couldn't quite get into their middle order as early as we would have liked. We've got to give CSK a lot of credit here. I'm so proud of what our guys are achieving. We're still learning how to play our best games when we get to the Knockouts."