South African batsman's unbeaten half century proved enough to lead his side into their seventh final
Faf du Plessis fires Chennai Super Kings into Indian Premier League final
South African batsman Faf du Plessis hit a match-winning half century to lead Chennai Super Kings to a thrilling victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday and with it a place in the Indian Premier League final.
Requiring 140 to win, Chennai looked to have left themselves with too much to do when they were reduced to 62-6 and then 113-8 with just 13 balls remaining.
However, Du Plessis (67 not out), held firm and after some timely assistance from No 10 batsman Shardul Thakur, who hit 15 runs from just five deliveries, the South African claimed the win with a six on the first ball of the final over.
"It's nice to contribute since I haven't played much," Du Plessis said. "Yesterday, I was just reflecting on my past games, and took some confidence from that mentally.
"Sometimes the game seems out of reach, but you keep sticking in. But Shardul came in and hit some boundaries, and everything went our way. [Hyderabad bowler] Rashid [Khan] was a real handful, so just happy to cross the line. Rashid was tough to pick, so hard to take him on. So you try to get through him as much as you can."
Hyderabad will now have another chance to reach the final when they take on the winner of Wednesday's eliminator between Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals.
"A trip to Kolkata now," Hyderabad captain Kane Williamson said. "We were too short with the bat, and it was actually a decent surface. We would've wanted 20 more. The game did swing our way, and bowlers were outstanding, but we didn't quite execute it like in the past.
"Hopefully we can cross the line in Kolkata and come back here. We do back our death bowlers, but it wasn't to be today. It's important that we learn from this and take it to our next match. Faf played a beautiful knock, and credit to the way they scrapped it. We got a bit of hard work to do, but we'll do it one over at a time."
Following Wednesday's eliminator at Eden Gardens, Hyderabad will face the victor at the same venue on Friday, with the winner of that match earning the right to face Chennai in the IPL final on Sunday.
Tuesday's victory means Chennai have reached their seventh final, and captain MS Dhoni believes team spirit will be key if his side are to lift their third title.
"I'm always happy when we win," he said. "We have been a very good team over the past 10 seasons, but it's more about the dressing room atmosphere. And you can't do that without the players and the support staff. If atmosphere is not good, then players go in different directions. But somehow we have managed to keep our boys on track."