Shane Watson overcame injury and a slow start with the bat to guide Chennai Super Kings to a third Indian Premier League title, as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by eight wickets.
The Australian opener, whose movement was inhibited by a hamstring complaint, failed to score off the first 10 balls he faced, as CSK made a laboured beginning to their pursuit of 179 to win in Mumbai.
Once he found his range, though, he was unstoppable. He smashed 117 from his next 47 deliveries, as he razed the “Ministry of Defence” – the name the IPL commentary team have given Hyderabad’s bowling attack.
The blitz was remarkable for a man who turns 37 in a little over two weeks, and has long since retired from the international game.
To put it into sharper perspective, Watson was the player of the tournament in the first IPL 11 seasons ago, when he played a similarly central role in making Rajasthan Royals the inaugural champions.
The years have done little to dull the power of his batting. The centrepiece of the final arrived when he took 27 runs off Sandeep Sharma in the 13th over of the chase. It was savage, and put him on track for his fourth IPL century.
Victory was a significant feat for the Chennai franchise for several reasons. It was their first season back in the IPL, after they had been suspended for the previous two because of a corruption scandal.
Then, almost as soon as they were readmitted, they were evicted from their home city because of crowd trouble, with their matches shifted over 1,000kms away to Pune instead.
Despite all that, they picked up the trophy for a third time – the same number as Mumbai Indians – and in the process maintained the best overall win percentage in the competition’s history.
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Defeat felt harsh on several players for the Hyderabad side, who had finished at the top of the league phase of the competition, on run-rate differential ahead of their eventual conquerors.
Kane Williamson, who had taken on the captaincy on the eve of the tournament after David Warner was suspended from playing because of his role in the Australia ball-tampering saga, made 47. That extended his lead at the top of the IPL run charts for this season.
His haul of 735 was the third highest over the course of a single campaign since the league’s inception in 2008. Only Virat Kohli and Warner have managed more.
Yusuf Pathan did his best to win a fourth IPL – to go with the World Twenty20 and World Cup winners medals he also possesses – with 45 not out in 25 balls.
Then with the ball, it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who shackled Watson at the start of the reply. He sent down 11 dot balls in his first two overs, and was only deprived successive maidens by a missed run out that eventually cost five in all, given the throw went to the boundary.
And the fact Rashid Khan, the Afghan spinner, went wicketless for Sunrisers was telling, given his dramatic impact on his second IPL.
In the end, though, it was all about Watson. All he did not do was apply the actual finishing touch, but at least he was there at the non-striker’s end when Ambati Rayudu carved away the winning runs in the penultimate scheduled over.