Sehwag’s fury leaves Super Kings gasping

Virender Sehwag sprang the biggest surprise of IPL-7 at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday taking his team to a spectacular victory over Chennai Super Kings and to the title match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Bangalore on Sunday.

After some listless displays in the league, the former India opener exploded, showing the bright side of his cricket.

In a little over half an hour Suresh Raina threatened to turn the match on its head with a heavy dose of scintillating strokeplay and sweetly timed sixes, but a direct-hit run out effected by rival captain George Bailey halted CSK in its tracks.

Raina’s brilliance enabled CSK reach an exact 100 at the conclusion of the Power Play overs. After Faf du Plessis perished, West Indian Dwayne Smith remained a mere spectator when Raina did everything right with the bat and seemed to be on his way to stealing the thunder from his former India teammate.

But, once he fell, KXIP regained control and advanced to the final for the first time. A Mitchell Johnson no-ball ‘dismissal’ stretched Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s tenure in the middle, but the target of 227 was too far away to be really challenged and KXIP won its third straight match against CSK.

The Sehwag story of the evening was all about raw as well as refined hitting. By his own high standards, the 35-year-old had appeared well past his prime in the 15 previous outings.

The pre-match focus was on Glenn Maxwell, but getting a chance ahead of the Australian in the batting order, Sehwag refused to be far removed from the scene of action. He went on a leather hunt and notched up his second IPL century that shaped KXIP’s third score over 200 against two-time champion CSK.

Clearly there was much inspiration to be drawn from its earlier two wins against CSK at Abu Dhabi and Cuttack when it chased and defended 200 plus targets. Sehwag had played his part in those matches dominated by Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey; he scored 19 (10b, 4x4) and 30 (23b, 5x4, 1x6).

A forceful off-side boundary off left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra set the tone for a remarkable knock over a period of one-and-a-half hours.

Manan Vohra, overshadowed by one of the most feared batsmen in world cricket, in the meanwhile clubbed Ishwar Pandey for two sixes.

Sehwag raced to his half-century off 21 balls with seven 4s and two 6s and then reached his century off 50 balls with a flurry of sixes off Jadeja, Nehra and Ashwin.

KXIP posted 70 runs in the Power Play overs and then Miller’s brutal hitting took it to a total that most teams would regard as safe.

But, on an extraordinary Friday night, when the bat held sway over the ball, and with Raina in the middle flaying the bowlers to all parts of the field and into the stands, Sehwag may have wondered whether the magic he had wrought with the bat was not enough.

Scoreboard:

Kings XI Punjab: Virender Sehwag c du Plessis b Nehra 122 (58b, 12x4, 8x6), Manan Vohra c Raina b Pandey 34 (31b, 1x4, 2x6), Glenn Maxwell c Raina b Ashwin 13 (6b, 1x4, 1x6), David Miller run out 38 (19b, 5x4, 1x6), George Bailey b Nehra 1 (2b), Wriddhiman Saha c Smith b Mohit 6 (4b, 1x6), Mitchell Johnson (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-1, lb-1, nb-1, w-8): 11; Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 226.

Fall of wickets: 1-110 (Vohra), 2-148 (Maxwell), 3-211 (Sehwag), 4-218 (Bailey), 5-225 (Miller), 6-226 (Saha).

Chennai Super Kings bowling: Ashish Nehra 4-0-51-2, Ishwar Pandey 4-0-35-1, Mohit Sharma 4-0-46-1, Ravichandran Ashwin 4-0-44-1, Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-48-0.

Chennai Super Kings: Dwayne Smith b Sandeep 7 (11b), Faf du Plessis c Bailey b Johnson 0 (1b), Suresh Raina run out 87 (25b, 12x4, 6x6), Brendon McCullum run out 11 (16b), Ravindra Jadeja c Johnson b Awana 27 (21b, 2x4, 1x6), David Hussey c Sehwag b Awana 1 (3b), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (not out) 42 (31b, 3x4, 3x6), R. Ashwin st. Saha b Akshar 10 (11b), Mohit Sharma (not out) 1 (3b); Extras (b-4, lb-4, nb-2, w-6): 16; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 202.

Fall of wickets: 1-1 (du Plessis), 2-67 (Smith), 3-100 (Raina), 4-140 (McCullum), 5-140 (Jadeja), 6-142 (D. Hussey), 7-167 (Ashwin).

Kings XI Punjab bowling: Mitchell Johnson 4-0-44-1, Sandeep Sharma 3-0-32-1, Parvinder Awana 4-0-59-2, Karanveer Singh 4-0-32-0, Glenn Maxwell 1-0-4-0, Akshar Patel 4-0-23-1.

Man-of-the-match: V. Sehwag.

KXIP won by 24 runs.