Dubai: In-form Faf du Plessis saved his best for the last with a blazing 86 off 59 balls as Chennai Super Kings posted a formidable 192 for 3 against Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL final here on Friday.
It was a ‘Daddies’ Day Out’ in the true sense as 37-year-old du Plessis, along with 35-year-olds Robin Uthappa (31 off 15 balls) and Moeen Ali (37 not out off 20 balls), set up a target for KKR which they would find difficult on a big Dubai International Stadium ground with premier batsman Rahul Tripathi injuring his calf muscle.
The former Proteas skipper got a reprieve in third over when Dinesh Karthik bungled an easy stumping chance and then made full use by smashing seven fours and three sixes and also finished as second highest run-getter behind Ruturaj Gaikwad (635).
All standout shots came off Lockie Ferguson as there was cracking over drive and two sixes over long-off region. Ferguson (0/56 in 4 overs) had a forgettable day in office.
An opening stand of 61 in eight overs with ‘flavour of the season’ Gaikwad (32 off 27 balls) set the tone and then Robin Uthappa, who had decided to roll back years with 31 off only 15 balls that included his signature pick-up sixes over the deep mid-wicket region.
The 63 runs added in only 5.2 overs did derail KKR’s bowling with only Sunil Narine (2/26 in 4 overs) getting his length and variations in pace right.
If that wasn’t enough, another veteran Moeen joined the party as suddenly du Plessis played the second fiddle letting the England international go hammer and tongs at the KKR bowling. They added 68 in 6.3 overs.
He first snuffed out Gaikwad, who was caught in the deep, and then bowled one straighter which Uthappa missed the line trying to go for the reverse sweep.
The reason why KKR lost the plot during the first 10 overs was Shakib (0/33 in 3 overs) losing his confidence after Karthik’s missed stumping and in the process the length going all awry.
Adding insult to the injury was Ferguson, whose express pace which had been the difference during the UAE leg, became his undoing from the moment Gaikwad sliced him between cover and point.
Du Plessis then transformed using the pace for big hits into art form with an able hand in Moeen, who found the gaps on both sides of the wickets with finesse while lofting the maximums with effortless ease.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt./wk), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (capt.), Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakaravarthy.