Powered by a brilliant 122 from the willow of the legendary Virender Sehwag, Kings XI Punjab registered a 24-run victory against the Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 2. After setting a steep 227-run target, KXIP and the Nawab of Najafgarh seemed to have met their match in Suresh Raina. The let-hander scored a 25-ball 87-run blinder as he looked to finish off the run-chase all by himself. However, his unforced dismissal – off a freak run-out in the seventh over – caused CSK to lose the initial momentum and also the match. KXIP will now face KKR in the IPL 2014 Final on Sunday, June 1, 2014, at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Powerplay: Sehwag dominates CSK pacers
MS Dhoni asked KXIP to take first strike at Wankhede Stadium on a wicket that appeared to be batting-friendly. Doing justice to the track, Virender Sehwag and Manan Vohra gave their team a great start. Barring the second over – which cost a solitary run – there was no respite for CSK as the likes of Ashish Nehra, Ishwar Pandey and Mohit Sharma were taken to the cleaners. In fact, the fourth over went for a whopping 24 runs, courtesy two fours and two sixes that were struck in it.
By the end of the powerplay, KXIP had scored 70 runs – out of which Sehwag accounted for 42 (in just 18 balls), while Vohra scored 25 during that stretch.
Middle Overs: CSK still have no answers for Viru
Despite Dhoni mixing the attack up with the spin of R Ashwin starting with the seventh over, there was no stopping the on-song KXIP openers. Sehwag even brought up his half-century in that over. The batting pair even picked on Ravindra Jadeja, and ended up bringing up their team’s 100 in the 10th over itself.
But finally, CSK caught a break, when Ishwar Pandey – bowling the 11th over – got rid of Manan Vohra (34) and gave up only two runs against the run of play, leaving KXIP on 110 for one. But that over was an aberration as Nehra conceded 20 off the next. And while Ashwin dismissed Glenn Maxwell (13) off the final ball of the 13th over, the off-spinner had already conceded 17 runs off the earlier five deliveries.
At 148 for two, David Miller joined Sehwag at the crease. The pair soon brought up the KXIP 150 in the 14th over. Then by the end of the 15th over, KXIP posted 167 runs for two wickets. Again, Sehwag was the chief destroyer as he was unbeaten on 98 at that stage and helped his team plunder 97 quick runs during the middle nine-over period.
Final Stretch: Vintage Sehwag powers KXIP past 200
Sehwag eventually got to his century in the 15th over with a single. However, he showed no signs of slowing down thereafter, and even Miller joined the onslaught. The duo scored 44 runs over the next three overs, and took KXIP past the 200-run mark. And finally, in the 18th over, CSK saw the back of Sehwag (122) off Nehra’s bowling. But before departing, the veteran opener struck 12 fours and eight maximums during his 58-ball innings, which was undoubtedly one of the highlights of Pepsi IPL 2014.
Even George Bailey (1) perished off Nehra a few balls later. And then, in the final over, Miller’s (38) 19-ball cameo came to an end, courtesy a run-out. And off the last ball of the innings, Mohit Sharma got rid of Wriddhiman Saha (6). But by that point, KXIP had already posted a massive 226 runs in their 20 overs, thanks largely to Sehwag’s stellar century. In all, 58 runs were scored in the final five overs.
Powerplay: Ravaging Raina does the unthinkable
In response, CSK lost Faf du Plessis (0) in the first over itself, off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson. But Suresh Raina, who walked in at No.3, then took matters in his own hands. The southpaw quickly got his eye in and struck a flurry of sixes and fours to neutralise the early loss. Thanks to his exploits – during which Dwayne Smith was a mere spectator – the CSK 50 came up in the fourth over, which ended up costing KXIP 20 runs. And then, to top off an unbelievable feat of batting Raina brought up his half-century off just 16 balls – with a big off-side six in the fifth over.
However, Smith (7), who was going at less than a run-a-ball was cleaned up by Sandeep Sharma later in that over. But Raina continued to smash big hit after big hit, and he struck two sixes and five fours – including one off a no-ball – to bring up the CSK 100 after just six overs, which is the highest powerplay score in the IPL. Raina’s score at the end of this period was 87 off just 25 balls – including 12 fours and six maximums.
Middle Overs: Raina goes, so does the momentum
But in an anti-climactic end to a brilliant knock, Raina (87) was run out by Bailey while responding to a Brendon McCullum single off the first ball of the seventh over. And thanks to this breakthrough, KXIP only concede a total of seven runs off the next two overs. Despite the flying start, CSK could only get as far as 122 for three at the halfway stage.
And while Jadeja helped pick 12 runs off the next over, McCullum (11) was run out at the end of the 12th over. Then, off the first ball of the next over, Jadeja (27) holed out to Johnson at thirdman off the bowling of Parvinder Awana. The KXIP pacer struck another blow four balls later with the wicket of David Hussey (1), leaving CSK on 142 for six in 12.5 overs. Thereafter, Dhoni and Ashwin came together and took their team to 155 for six by the end of the 15th over.
During the nine-over middle phase, CSK could score only 55 runs, as Raina’s loss clearly impacted the run-chase in a big way.
Final Stretch: Kings XI seal the match
With 72 more runs required off the final 30 deliveries, CSK needed their skipper to take charge – not only because he was the last recognised match-winner in the line-up, but also because if anyone could pull this run-chase off it was Dhoni. But he lost the company of Ashwin (10) in the 17th over – courtesy a stumping by Saha off the bowling of Akshar Patel. And by the end of that over the run-chase equation read 60 off 18 balls.
And then, it seemed like CSK had lost their one remaining beacon of hope when Johnson bowled Dhoni out, the Men in Yellow caught another break as video replays revealed that the pacer had clearly overstepped and captain cool was recalled. However, this turn of events did not change the course of the match, as the required run-rate kept climbing with every passing delivery. And despite Dhoni’s (42*) best efforts – including a last-ball six reminiscent of the 2011 World Cup-winning hit – CSK missed out on their sixth IPL Finals appearance as they ended up on 202 for seven.
Man of the Match: Virender Sehwag for his match-winning century