Chennai Super Kings 180 for 2 (Rayudu 100*, Watson 57) beat Sunrisers Hyderabad 179 for 4 (Dhawan 79, Williamson 51) by 8 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Chennai Super Kings all but joined Sunrisers Hyderabad in the playoffs with a dominant win over the leaders of the league on Sunday evening. The job was finished for them a few hours later by Rajasthan Royals; their win against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede confirmed a top-four finish for CSK.
Sunrisers arrived in Pune with a perfect record batting first, having successfully defended118, 132, 146 and 151. Asked to bat first, they put on their highest total of the tournament, but ran into Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu, arguably the best opening combination this IPL.
Watson began the aggression but Rayudu wasn't too far behind. Rayudu capped a remarkable turnaround of a season with his maiden T20 hundred, and Watson fell for 57 off 35. The real damage, arguably, was done by Super Kings bowlers: a returning-from-injury Deepak Chahar at the start of the match to force a slow start on Sunrisers, and then Dwayne Bravo at the end of the innings to convert what looked like a chase of 200 into 180.
Swing, the perils of
You know the basic principles of swing, the techniques, the release, the wrist position, but the phenomenon of swing bowling sometimes surprises you by disappearing suddenly. When the ball does swing, though, it becomes difficult to take it from upwards of eight runs an over. Alex Hales and Shikhar Dhawan tried, followed by Kane Williamson, but they all struggled against the swing of Chahar. MS Dhoni cleverly gave him a change of ends to sync his outswing with the wind in Pune after giving him the customary first over. Bowling the fourth over, Chahal got rid of Hales, and Dhawan and Williamson were forced to be watchful as Chahar finished inside eight overs with figures of 4-0-16-1.
Sunrisers' 29 for 1 at the end of six was the second-lowest Powerplay this season for the loss of just one wicket. The lowest was Super Kings' 27 against the same opposition in their first match against each other. Super Kings went slow till the ninth over - much like Sunrisers here. Super Kings were 41 after nine, Sunrisers 51 after nine.
Dhawan and Williamson turn it around
Starting the 10th over, the next seven went for 11, 13, 14, 11, 16, 14 and 11. This was clinical hitting against bowlers who were now under pressure. The swing was gone, the pitch looked flat, and both Dhawan and Williamson took full toll. Both reached fifties, Williamson crossed 500 for the season, making it fourth season in a row for a Sunrisers captain to score 500 runs. The hitting looked effortless, even though it featured Williamson - typically accelerating manically as his innings got longer - hitting big sixes.
Bravo pulls things back
The last ball of those seven overs was a slower ball from Bravo - a predictable one arguably - but it arrived so slowly that Dhawan was almost through his second shot - a ramp - by the time the ball reached him. All Dhawan managed was a lob to short fine leg. Bravo collected his cap, went to deep point, saw the first ball of the next over fly over short third man, but ran hard to his left and took with both hand catches and on both feet a catch that a few other fielders would have put in a dive for. These are catches that can be appreciated only at the ground: the anticipation, the early movement, the still head, the control. In two balls, both set batsmen were gone, and despite 21 off 11 from Deepak Hooda, only 38 came in the last four overs.
No swing in the evening
It is difficult to tell what changed in under two hours. It did become overcast, which should actually aid swing. And if there is any swing to be had, Bhuvneshwar Kumar should get it. When the best bowling side of the competition bowled, though, there was no swing, and Watson and Rayudu punished them. Watson went after young Sandeep Sharma and Bhuvneshwar, racing to 26 off 13 in three overs.
Sunrisers were forced to use Rashid Khan inside the Powerplay for only the fourth time this season. Rayudu hit him for four. Williamson then went to Shakib Al Hasan probably because Watson had got out to left-arm orthodox spin twice in 11 balls this IPL. Watson hit him for four first ball. Siddarth Kaul went for four, six and four in his first over, all to Rayudu. Watson finally fell off the bowling of Shakib, run out in the 14th over, having played his part in the biggest opening stand of this IPL. With 46 required off 39, the only matter of interest was if Rayudu would get the 29 he needed for the century.
A four from Dhoni, with seven required and with Rayudu on 99, might have given him a nervous moment, but Dhoni duly took the single and allowed Rayudu to take the single to bring up the hundred and level the scores, in the 19th over.