A stunning late show from Faf du Plessis carried Chennai Super Kings to the Indian Premier League final with a two-wicket qualifier win against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
In a topsy-turvy clash on Tuesday, the Super Kings looked to have spectacularly let their grasp of a final berth slip after a strong start with the ball.
Indeed, a relatively paltry target of 140, set by the Sunrisers, would have been much lower but for a Carlos Brathwaite (43 not out) rally at the death.
And yet Chennai initially stumbled horribly with the bat, losing early wickets and struggling to plunder runs with any sort of consistency to give Du Plessis a mountain to climb in the closing stages.
But the South Africa star carried his bat to reach 67 and his side's target with five balls to spare, aided by Shardal Thakur's crucial unbeaten 15 that made up for his earlier bowling woes.
As Du Plessis and his team-mates prepare for the final, Hyderabad will now play in the second qualifier against either Kolkata Knight Riders or Rajasthan Royals.
SUPER KINGS ENJOY STRONG START
The Super Kings had beaten the Sunrisers twice already in the tournament and they took confidence into the first ball of the match, with which Deepak Chahar (1-31) dismissed Shikhar Dhawan.
Captain Kane Williamson arrived at the crease and climbed to the top of the 2018 run standings with a knock of 24, but his progress was checked as he swiped behind to MS Dhoni.
While captain Dhoni had missed an earlier opportunity for a run out from point-blank range, Chennai were otherwise ruthless and Dwayne Bravo (2-25) provided the standout wicket.
Yusuf Pathan (24) rifled a Bravo delivery back down the wicket, only for the former West Indies captain to make a spectacular lunging catch. It summed up a frustrating Hyderabad innings.
FAF TO THE RESCUE
The Sunrisers still managed to reach 139-7 after Thakur (1-50) gifted Brathwaite a generous final over, though, and the Super Kings then crumbled early.
As in the previous innings, the first wicket preceded the first run as Shane Watson was caught by Shreevats Goswami, before Suresh Raina (22) and Ambati Rayudu (0) went in consecutive balls to leave Chennai at 24-3.
And there appeared to be little improvement, with Dhoni (9) and Bravo (7) quickly departing, too, as Du Plessis saw partner after partner make way, the score sitting at 62-6 by the time of Ravindra Jadeja's dismissal for just three runs.
But Thakur stepped up and Du Plessis ended with nine boundaries – four of which were maximums - his winning six at the start of the final over prompting mass celebration as his franchise reached a seventh IPL final.
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