IPL 2018: Watson century floors Sunrisers

IPL 2018: Watson century floors Sunrisers

Chennai Super Kings players celebrate with the IPL 2018 trophy after winning the final match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, in Mumbai on Sunday. CSK defeated SRH by eight wickets to lift the trophy. PTI

Shane Watson played out a maiden first over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and struggled for the next nine balls as he limped to seven runs off 15 balls. With Bhuvneshwar giving away just nine runs in his three overs and Sandeep Sharma conceding just 10 in his first two, the run rate shot up close to 11.

Given Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling attack, Chennai Super Kings appeared to be leaving it too late as they moved to 20 for one after five overs in a chase of 179. Just then Watson exploded and how! Having gone without a half-century in his last six innings with the highest being 39, Watson couldn’t have chosen a better occasion to regain his touch. The Aussie veteran, who already had a century to his name this season against Rajasthan Royals, struck another blistering century (117 n.o., 57b, 11x4, 8x6) as CSK made short work of SRH’s competitive 178/6, reaching 181/2 in 18.3 overs in the IPL 11 final here at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

The eight-wicket victory gave CSK their third IPL title and coming as it did after a two-year hiatus following their suspension in 2015, it must have been a touch special. The triumph, coming after a gap of seven years, makes MS Dhoni and CSK the joint most successful captain and team respectively along with Rohit Sharma and Mumbai Indians, who also have three trophies.

Watson began the assault, picking Sandeep Sharma for some special treatment. The right-hander slammed the medium pacer for a six and four and that injected life into his innings. From there on, there was no stopping the 36-year-old who reached his half-century in 33 balls and brought up the next fifty in just 18 balls (4x4, 4x6); in fact the last three runs of his century came only in singles.

At 104 for one in 12 overs, SRH could have still hoped to pull off things in their favour but the 13th over from Sandeep killed the match as a contest. Watson clobbered the Punjab bowler for 27 runs, hitting three sixes in a row. Suresh Raina (32) was out in the next over after sharing 117 runs (57b) partnership for the second wicket but that hardly was a reason to fret for CSK who finished off the chase with ridiculous chase.    

Earlier, aided by several cameos, the Hyderabad outfit managed to reach 178 for six with skipper Kane Williamson (47, 36b, 5x4, 2x6) providing momentum at the top and Yusuf Pathan (45 n.o., 25b, 4x4, 2x6) giving flourish towards the end.     

Opting to bowl first on what appeared a good batting surface, CSK were off to a tidy start with their new-ball bowlers keeping the SRH batsmen quiet in the first four overs. Desperately needing some momentum to their innings, Williamson targeted Deepak Chahar in the fifth over, slamming him for a six and a four to take 13 runs off it. Shikhar Dhawan then got into the act to deposit Shardul Thakur for a massive six over long-on, the over yielding 12 runs and SRH finishing the power play at 42/1. The duo continued to gather quick runs and by the end of eighth over, SRH had reached 62/1 having plundered 45 in the last four.

The introduction of Ravindra Jadeja broke that momentum with the left-arm spinner dismissing Dhawan. That slowed down SRH scoring rate before Williamson and Shakib Al Hasan laid waste to Jadeja in the 11th over, hammering the bowler for two sixes and a four to take 17 runs off the over.      

CSK, however, never allowed the partnerships to build. Every time SRH managed to find some impetus, CSK were able to get breakthroughs, restricting them to a gettable total.