Two different teams with different agendas were stepping out in Match 44. The odds of making it to the play-offs for Sunrisers Hyderabad were hanging on a thin line and with this defeat, in no other theoretical combination can they make it. As for Chennai Super Kings, this win puts the ghosts of 2020 behind as they became the first team to qualify in 2021.
The Chennai franchise have maintained a 100 percent win record when they have won the toss. Today was the fifth instance of MS Dhoni winning the toss and the match. Batting first, the Sunrisers' opener who was the star in their win last match, Jason Roy departed early. Wriddhiman Saha and skipper Kane Williamson steadied the ship, but not for too long. Williamson was dismissed in the first over after the powerplay (seventh over). There on, the everlasting Hyderabad problem, their middle order couldn’t consolidate against a rampaging Chennai bowling outfit. They crawled to a score 134/7 as Dwayne Bravo (2/17) and Josh Hazlewood (3/24) starred for Chennai with the ball.
The most successful pair of this season, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis, cut-off 55 percent of the runs as they hoisted yet another 50+ partnership (75). However, Jason Holder sparked a small fight-back as he bagged Gaikwad in the 11th over and Suresh Raina and du Plessis in the 16th over. But, the most experienced bowler in the Hyderabad unit, Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded 13 runs in the penultimate over when the equation was 16 off 12 balls. Dhoni finished off yet another game with his trademark six over cow corner and put Chennai into the play-offs. Here are some of the notable stats from Match 44:
Dhoni’s century of catches
Playing most of his career for Chennai in IPL, Dhoni added another milestone with the gloves on. In his match against Hyderabad, Dhoni had three catches to his name. The second catch – Priyam Garg – registered his 100th for Chennai. No other wicket-keeper has taken more than 50 catches for a team. In fact, no fielder has achieved this record for a team. The second highest number of catches taken by a fielder for a team is Suresh Raina with 98 for Chennai.
Hazlewood delivers the second-best spell
In the last three matches Hazlewood played this season, he had three wickets to his name, but had gone for plenty. On slow pitch he was preferred ahead of Imran Tahir and he justified it with a three-wicket haul. Only three Chennai bowlers have picked up three or more wickets against Hyderabad in IPL and Hazlewood (3/24) registered the second-best spell against them. In addition, this was also his best spell in the IPL.
The champion has his dancing shoes on in UAE
Heading into the tournament, one of the biggest concerns for Dhoni was his premium death overs bowler Bravo who was going for plenty and was wicketless. The shift in venue came in as a blessing in disguise for Bravo and the Chennai team. Bravo in the first leg of IPL 2021 that happened in India, featured in four out the seven matches played and had only three wickets to his name at an economy 7.7 and he had a wicket every 22 balls and 28.3 runs. It has been a complete turn-around in UAE for the highest wicket-taker in T20s. He has bagged eight wickets in three innings at an economy of 5.5 and balls/wicket ratio of 9.
The opening flare
One of the main reasons behind Chennai’s success story this season has been the opening pair of du Plessis and Gaikwad. The duo has racked up 599 runs at an average of 54.5 in 11 innings. Out of those 11, the pair has had six 50+ partnerships (4 – 50s, 2 – 100s). They went past Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw’s tally of 550, to become the most successful pair this season. In a much bigger context, this has been the most successful pair for Chennai across the seasons of IPL. Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina in the 2013 edition, had posted 587 runs together, which was their best in a season of IPL before.
Dhoni finishing off in style
The icing on the cake for Chennai was their skipper, Dhoni, finishing off the run-chase in his traditional way with his trade-mark six over the cow-corner. The six that handed Chennai’s ninth win of the season and embarked the “Q” to their name in the points table was Dhoni’s 50th six in the 20th over of IPL. No other batsman has hit as many as he has. To emboss further, 23 off those 50 have come when he has been chasing. No other batsman has hit more than 10 sixes in the 20th over of a chase.