Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Kings XI Punjab opening batsman Virender Sehwag gave the Mumbai crowd a glimpse of the past as he blitzed his way to a breath-taking 122 to not only knock the Chennai Super Kings out of the Indian Premier League (IPL), but also set up a finals clash against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
While Sehwag stole the majority of the spotlight, Chennai batsman Suresh Raina deserves a lot of credit for his entertaining knock of 87.
Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would have been brooding over his decision to bowl first as Sehwag and Manan Vohra amassed a 110-run partnership, during which Sehwag brought up his half-century, before Vohra was caught by Raina at midwicket off the bowling of Ishwar Pandey for 34.
Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell only made 13 runs before he was caught by Raina at cow corner off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin.
Sehwag and David Miller stabilised the innings with a 63-run partnership, during which Sehwag registered his century, before he was brilliantly caught by Faf du Plessis at extra cover off the bowling of Ashish Nehra.
Sehwag’s sparkling knock of 122 came off 58 balls and included 12 boundaries and an incredible eight sixes.
Nehra struck again just five balls later when Punjab skipper George Bailey was clean bowled for one run.
Miller ended up scoring 38 before he was run out by Dhoni.
Wriddhiman Saha mustered six runs before he was caught by Dwayne Smith at deep square leg off the bowling of Mohit Sharma.
Thanks to Sehwag, Punjab finished on 226/6 off their 20 overs.
Nehra was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets, while Sharma, Pandey and Ashwin chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing a mammoth target of 227 to win, Chennai got off to a horrible start as du Plessis was caught by Bailey at mid-on off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson for a golden duck.
Smith and Raina made up for the early loss of du Plessis with a 66-run partnership, during which Raina brought up his half-century, before Smith was clean bowled by Sandeep Sharma for seven runs.
Raina went on to score 87 off just 25 balls, which included 12 boundaries and six sixes, before he was run out by Bailey.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
New Zealand batsman Brendon McCullum only made 11 runs before he was run out by Maxwell.
Ravindra Jadeja made a quickfire 27 before he was caught by Johnson at long-off off the bowling of Parvinder Awana.
Awana struck again just four balls later when David Hussey was caught by Sehwag at midwicket for one run.
Ashwin scored 10 runs before he was stumped by Saha off the bowling of Akshar Patel.
Despite scoring 42 off 31 balls, which included three boundaries and three sixes, Dhoni was not able to carry his team across the finish line and they ended up falling short by 24 runs.
Awana was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Johnson, Sharma and Patel claimed one wicket each.
Dhoni was disgusted to have been knocked out of the IPL, and said: “I think definitely it was something we could have achieved, the reason being suresh the way he batted. I think in the middle overs there was some very irresponsible cricket by some of the most experienced international cricketers, so I think definitely we need to have a look. One of the facts is one of our retained players. We lost at the start itself, but we still made the playoffs, we did really well in the tournament. I had belief in my bowling that they will let them score more than 200 runs (smiles). Happy for Priety though.”
Bailey was ecstatic to have led Punjab to their maiden IPL final, and said: “What an innings from Viru, [he] set the platform and was backed up by Miller at the end. [It was] almost overshadowed by Suresh’s innings. We have seen two extraordinary innings tonight. The belief in the group after the first Powerplay was terrific, I thought Awana came back very well, our spinners have done the job again. Raina was unlucky wasn’t he (laughs), our fielding has been pretty good right through the tournament.”
Sehwag was named Man of the Match, and said: “I had a chat with SRT as well, put the conscious effort to stay till the 10-12th over. I promised someone that there is one innings I have to play, maybe it will come in the playoffs, today is Ness Wadia’s birthday, I told him I will give him the best birthday gift. Whenever I got out, my son kept telling me, ‘papa you are not scoring runs,’ I told him hold on, there is still time.”