Watson

It all began at Wankhede Stadium for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on April 7. Returning to IPL after a two-year ban, CSK had defied the odds against Mumbai Indians (MI) to pull off the improbable. Their fairytale comeback turned a full circle at the same venue as they marched to their third IPL title. Seven finals, three titles, nine top-four positions. They undoubtedly are the most successful IPL side.

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), masters of defending totals, lost to CSK for the fourth time in the tournament. This time a Shane Watson special demolished them.

Watson slammed his fourth IPL hundred and his second of the season. Watson evoked memories of his form from the inaugural edition in 2008. Unfortunately, CSK were victims of his rage in the final as he ended as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. His 117 off 57 balls ensured CSK’s win in the 19th over today. His innings consisted of 11 fours and 8 sixes. Watson registered the highest score in an IPL final, and the first while chasing in a final. The 57-ball 117-run second-wicket stand between Watson and Suresh Raina sealed the match.

CSK weren’t off to the ideal start. Watson found going tough against Bhuvi. The first over was a maiden. They were 5 after 2 overs. In the third, a boundary off an overthrow them a much needed respite. The building pressure got the better of Faf du Plessis in the next over, from Sandeep Sharma. Kane Williamson risked Bhuvi with his third over and CSK were struggling at 20 for 1 after 5 overs.

Watson, batting on 7 off 15 balls, finally got going in the sixth over. Sandeep went for 15 and Siddarth Kaul started terribly, bowling short and giving away 16. CSK were back in the game. Williamson was forced to introduce his trump card Rashid, who gave away 4 runs and a leg-bye.

Watson continued to target Kaul, plundering 16 more from his next over. CSK adopted a safe approach against Rashid, minimising risks against SRH’s strike bowler. CSK had raced to 80 for 1 after 10 overs.

Watson greeted Shakib Al Hasan to the attack with a six over deep square-leg to reach his 17th IPL fifty. Raina ended the over with a loft over the bowler’s head for another six. CSK by now had the grip on the match.

Sandeep returned to bowl his final over in the 13th over and that sealed the game in CSK’s favour. The over went 04666wd4. The equation was reduced to 48 off 42 balls.

Raina fell in the following over to his perennial weakness of short ball. Carlos Brathwaite had broken the century stand but SRH had no answer to Watson’s brute force.

Watson completed his century in the 17th over and finished Rashid’s spell with 2 fours. Ambati Rayudu, who had been CSK’s best batsman this season, scored the winning runs (to bring up his 600 for the tournament) at a venue that was his home for many seasons prior to this, against his home state in Ranji Trophy.

Earlier, asked to bat, SRH posted a competitive total. The middle-order that had been their weakest link came good in the summit clash. Williamson (47 runs in 36 balls), Shakib (23 in 15), Yusuf Pathan (45* in 25) and Brathwaite (21 in 11) made significant contributions towards the total after they were off to a relatively slow start, struggling at 17 for 1 after 4 overs.

More on the first innings

Brief scores:

Sunrisers Hyderabad 178 for 6 in 20 overs [Kane Williamson 47 (36), Yusuf Pathan 45 (25)*; Lungi Ngidi 4-1-26-1] lost to Chennai Super Kings 181 for 2 in 18.3 overs [Shane Watson 117* (57), Suresh Raina 32 (24); Carlos Brathwaite 2.3-0-27-1] by 8 wickets with 9 balls to spare.

Man of the Match: Shane Watson.

Full scorecard