Faf du Plessis scored an unbeaten 67 off 42 balls to carry Chennai Super Kings (CSK) past Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and into their seventh Indian Premier League (IPL) final despite being suspended for two of the 11 editions.
Du Plessis arrived on the crease after a brilliant spell from Rashid Khan had sent MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo packing. The Afghan spinner went on to concede just 11 runs from his four overs.
The South African middle order batsman, who had scored just 85 runs from four innings before the Qualifier on Tuesday, said that he took strength from his previous performances in the IPL. (
Acknowledging the bowler’s devastating spell du Plessis also admitted that the key to his success on Tuesday was to see off Rashid.
“It’s nice to contribute since I haven’t played much. Yesterday, I was just reflecting on my past games, and took some confidence from that mentally. I just entered the changing room now, and asked the boys, ‘how did we win this, guys?’” Du Plessis said at the post-match presentation.
“Sometimes the game seems out of reach, but you keep sticking in. But Shardul (Thakur) came in and hit some boundaries, and everything went our way. Rashid was a real handful, so just happy to cross the line. Rashid was tough to pick, so hard to take him on. So try to get through him as much as you can.”
RASHID, BEST SPINNER
Du Plessis further praised Rashid, calling him the best leg spinner in the world and warning prospective rivals of his potential to single handedly win matches.
“Rashid’s the best legspinner in the world. He’s going to pose a lot of challenges when he comes to Test cricket. He will win you games on his own, and that’s why you have to respect his bowling. We watch a lot of footage, but he’s still so hard to pick,” du Plessis said in a separate interview with Star Sports.
CSK were 93 for 7 and needed 47 from 24 balls when Rashid was through with his overs. Du Plessis said that he had waited to hit specifically smashing the West Indian for three fours and a six in an 18th over.
“Me, personally, in that situation, I felt that I needed to take all the risk against Carlos. His slower ball is not that much different than his (normal) pace. So even if he does (bowl a slower one), you can trust your (bat-) swing, so that’s what I was hoping for. And that’s the over we both targeted. And Shardul came in there and just smoked a few towards the end,” du Plessis said.
DHONI HUNGRY TO WIN
Du Plessis also acknowledged captain Dhoni’s desire to win the IPL this season, with whom he has shared the dressing room since 2012 including two years at Rising Pune Supergiant.
“Haven’t spoken to MSD yet, but what I can tell you, is having joined back at CSK and played with him for Rising Pune Supergiant last time, you can really say he wants it this time. He’s really proud of this team, and he’s like the big brother of the team, so it’s nice that most of us are back here. Great to have that camaraderie in the ground,” he said.
The 33-year-old also said the team’s selection of players at the auction, a large number of them being in their 30s, helped bolster the experience needed in tight matches.
“The vision that the franchise had, of keeping experienced players, was something a lot of people questioned,” du Plessis said.
“We have a few old bodies in the team, but in big moments you want experience there. There’s been a lot of occasions – go back to Dwayne Bravo early on in the season (against Mumbai Indians), so it’s nice we have so many experienced players to rely on. Chennai’s been to 7-8 finals, so the experience of big games, MS understands what to ask of the players. We’re playing our best cricket at the moment.”
Dhoni too, restated du Plessis faith in the older generation saying: “Faf’s innings is where experience counts,” he said.
“It’s not easy to not play a lot of games, but I always say you need to train your mind as well. That’s where the experience comes in. You visualise what your role is, how you can contribute, and Faf has been brilliant.”
“We have been a very good team over the past ten seasons, but it’s more about the dressing-room atmosphere. And you can’t do that without the players and the support staff.
“And if atmosphere is not good, then players go to different directions. But somehow, we have managed to keep our boys on track.”