All-star of the match
Questions were raised when Chennai Super Kings used their right-to-match card on Faf du Plessis and let go of a gun death bowler in Andrew Tye. And then, du Plessis played only four games before Tuesday. Come the playoffs, however, MS Dhoni needed more experience and turned to the South Africa captain. And du Plessis answered all the questions with a vintage 67* that had most of the traits of a Dhoni special: manoeuvring the middle overs, taking the match deep even as wickets tumbled at the other end, and sealing it with a six.
In the first eight overs of CSK's chase of 140, du Plessis faced just nine balls for five runs. He watched fellow opener Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni fall around him in that period. After Siddarth Kaul had removed Raina and Rayudu off successive balls, Rashid Khan stormed through the gate of Dhoni with a ripping wrong'un. Rashid proceeded to have Dwayne Bravo nicking behind with a sharp legbreak. When Deepak Chahar joined du Plessis, CSK were 92 for 7 with the asking rate reading 9.60. By then, du Plessis had moved to 38 off 31 balls. Rashid and Bhuvneshwar had one over each left, while Kaul had two. Williamson was left to choose among Shakib Al Hasan, Sandeep Sharma and Carlos Brathwaite for the other over.
Du Plessis survived an lbw call off Rashid after a successful review and helped bring down the equation to 43 off 18 balls. Williamson took a punt on Brathwaite and du Plessis launched a calculated assault on him, hitting him for four boundaries in the 18th over. He anticipated slower balls from Brathwaite, maintained a stable base, and unleashed smooth swings. All told, du Plessis hit 27 off 11 balls from Brathwaite at a strike-rate of 245.45. After Shardul Thakur squirted a brace of edged boundaries and loft off Kaul in the 19th over, CSK needed six off the last. Du Plessis was up against Bhuvneshwar Kumar, one of the best death bowlers in the IPL. He read the slower ball from Bhuvneshwar and nailed it over his head to lead CSK into their seventh IPL final with five balls and two wickets to spare.
The wow moment
The finish. When Bhuvneshwar floated a slower ball and erred too full, du Plessis stretched out, extended his hands, and hoisted it towards the sightscreen. He sent the sea of yellow at the Wankhede Stadium into a frenzy and had his team-mates charging towards him from the dugout.
After managing 23 off his first 26 balls, du Plessis hit 44 off his last 16 balls
He became the eighth CSK player to win the Player-of-the-match award in IPL 2018.
What they said
"I knew I had to take all the risk against Carlos. His slower ball is not that much different from his regular ball, so if he gets it wrong, you can hit it and trust your swing. And that's what I was hoping for. So that's why we targetted him. And Shardul came at the end, and smoked a few. That's the first time I've seen him bat!"
Faf du Plessis explains the method behind another last-gasp CSK chase
"That's where (du Plessis') experience counts. It's not easy not to get games during the IPL. I've always felt you need to train the mind more than the body. Injuries can happen anytime. He's been brilliant. He batted really well. Hopefully he can continue this in the final also."
'Nuff said MS Dhoni