Vijay charts CSK's path to final

Vijay charts CSK's path to final

Opener smashes blistering 113 as Super Kings crush Daredevils by 86 runs

Vijay charts CSK's path to final

Murali Vijay shed his indifferent form as Chennai Super Kings crushed table-toppers Delhi Daredevils to set up a mouth-watering IPL 5 title clash with Kolkata Knight Riders.

The stylish right-hander produced a sublime 113 (58b, 15x4, 4x6) as Super Kings stacked up a tournament-high 222 for five after being asked to bat first on a surface that turned out to be a batting beauty. Though Daredevils boast arguably the best batting line-up in the league, it was a total that needed something out of the ordinary to be overhauled.

In Virender Sehwag and David Warner, Delhi did have the required firepower to make a fist of a hard task but both batsmen fell cheaply, leaving too much to do for the likes of Mahela Jayawardene (55, 38b, 4x4, 2x6) and Ross Taylor. Sehwag didn't help his team's cause by opting not to open the innings, pushing Jayawardene up to partner Warner.

Once Kiwi Taylor too joined the dangerous duo in the hut after a 14-ball 24, the Super Kings bowlers squeezed the life out of Daredevils innings that eventually folded up for 136 in 16.4 overs, handing the hosts a commanding 86-run win and another shot at the title. Off-spinner R Ashwin was the stand-out bowler for the home side, returning with figures of three for 23.

This was the second time after the 2009 edition that the Daredevils have failed to make the final despite finishing on top in the league phase. The latest setback, however, must be hurting Sehwag and company more as they squandered their second chance to enter the final after their defeat in Qualifier 1 in Pune. Super Kings now have an opportunity to complete a hat-trick of wins on Sunday when they run into Gautam Gambhir’s men.

In his previous 12 innings, Vijay had managed a modest 181 but on a rare pleasant day, the right-hander turned the heat on the Daredevils while producing an innings of high class and elegance.

Showing his big-match temperament, the 28-year-old made his intentions clear right from the first ball he faced, stepping out to IPL debutant Sunny Gupta and slamming the off-spinner to long-off fence. The opener, whose season so far had been laced with odd innings of substance, chose the perfect occasion to showcase his quality of batsmanship.

Though the Tamil Nadu batsman maintained a strike rate in the vicinity of 200 throughout his innings, there wasn’t a single shot he played that can be bracketed as bludgeoned. Where his skipper MS Dhoni and later Dwane Bravo preferred to hammer the ball out of sight during their cameos, Vijay was happy caressing the ball exquisitely through the cover or delicately flicking it to mid-wicket and square-leg fence.

While Vijay paced the innings admirably well till the first ten overs, he shifted gears in the 11th over bowled by Daredevils’ skipper Sehwag, rattling 21 runs from that over. While he held one end up without as much sacrificing the urgency, Suresh Raina, Dhoni and Bravo inflicted endless damage on the clueless visiting attack.

Trusting the slow nature of the surface, Daredevils went in with two spinners -- left-armer Pawan Negi and Tamil Nadu offie Gupta who conceded 47 runs in his three overs. In the absence of the injured all-rounder Irfan Pathan, the visitors opted for Andre Russell in place of Purple Cap holder Morne Morkel that turned out to be a disastrous move. While the West Indian was decent in his four overs, Delhi badly missed Morkel’s presence.

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