Chennai Super Kings rode on a brilliant century by Murali Vijay to enter their fourth final in five Indian Premier League (IPL) seasons.
The two-time defending champions beat Delhi Daredevils - arguably the year's most consistent side - by 86 runs on Friday at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk, Chennai, to enter Sunday's final against Kolkata Knight Riders.
This IPL year had been Vijay's poorest yet, with the opening batsman having scored just 294 runs compared to the 458 and 434 he had clocked in 2010 and 2011 respectively. The Chennai resident, however, seized the opportunity presented to him on a wicket he knew only too well after his side were put in to bat by Virender Sehwag, the Delhi captain.
He scored 113 and was run out off the final ball of the Super Kings' innings by which time the home side had posted 222 for five.
Vijay was naturally ecstatic about the result and his own personal contribution at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"I know the Chennai wicket and I decided to hit straighter," he said. "After six overs I thought the wicket was playing slower, so I decided one of us had to bat through the end."
Indeed, Vijay's was a great knock by any standard for his style and the manner in which he paced the innings. His 113 runs were laced with four sixes and 15 boundaries.
"I was lucky to come through. Happy to be a part of this unit and learning from them," he added.
For Delhi, not one of their in-form batsmen could produce a similar effort with just Mahela Jayawardene scoring 55 off just 38 deliveries that included two sixes and four boundaries.
Only three of the Sri Lankan's teammates got into double figures as the Chennai bowlers bowled tight, well complemented their excellent fielders, in particular Dwayne Bravo, the West Indian all-rounder.
Sehwag admitted his team were met with two setbacks in the absence of Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan and South African pacer Morne Morkel both of whom had been sensational with the ball.
Morkel had to be benched with no more than four non-Indian players allowed in the playing XI according to IPL rules. It is a decision Delhi will regret deeply in hindsight.
"Unfortunately Pathan got injured and had to maintain the balance," Sehwag said, explaining the team's rationale behind the selection of Andre Russell ahead of Morkel. "It was a good pitch and you could score 180 was chaseable, but 40 more runs was going to be difficult to chase."
[ @SprtNationalUAE ]