Faf du Plessis smashed a brilliant 67* as Chennai Super Kings registered a thrilling two-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first qualifier to enter the IPL 2018 final.
Faf du Plessis, MoM: It’s nice to make a contribution tonight. Haven’t played much. Last night when I was preparing, I reflected on the games I’ve played here in Mumbai. It’s a stadium I’ve enjoyed playing. Took confidence from that. I just got in the change room now and said, how did we win that game. It felt just a little out of reach. It was great that guys came in and hit a few boundaries at the end. Everything went our way towards the end on a wicket which wasn’t easy to bat on. Rashid Khan was a handful on that wicket. He was really really tough to play on that wicket. It stopped a bit on that wicket and he bowls quickly. It’s hard to take him on. Our plan was to get through him. And see which bowler to take down on the night. Towards the end I was just trying to place a few.
Dhoni, CSK captain: I’m always happy whenever we win a game. Process is more important. Being in top two gives more liberty of having one more game. If we would’ve lost this game, still you give yourself a second chance. They bowled very well. There was a bit for the fast bowlers initially. Bhuvi bowled really well and he was backed up well by Rashid. We kept losing wickets, for that reason also we had to keep pushing ourselves to get the number of runs needed. We lost three-four in the middle and that put pressure. Obviously they have a mystery bowler. Good to win games like this. But what’s important is to learn out of this game. It’s about constantly improving. This is the best combination that we have got. And right from the first game we’ve used different bowlers in different ways to find out who is the best bowler at the end. You have to keep shuffling them to see who can see a good job for me. They will get hit at some point of time. These are the bowlers, and our bowlers, who were playing this game. They will have to step up in the final.
That’s where experience counts (talking about du Plessis). It’s not easy not to get games during the IPL. I’ve always felt you need to train the mind more than the body. Injuries can happen anytime. That’s where experience counts. He’s been brilliant. He batted really well. Hopefully he can continue this in the final also. We’ve been a very good team and it reflects when it comes to the IPL. It reflects the dressing room atmosphere we’ve been able to create. It’s not possible without that. Credit goes to management, support staff and players. Even if one of them is lacking you can’t have a good dressing room atmosphere. If atmosphere is not great, it becomes difficult to perform. Somehow we’ve been able to push the players into thinking about what’s good for the team.
Shardul Thakur: I thought it was good and it was important for me to give some runs and so that Faf could finish it . He (Faf) was set. I kept saying to the coaches that I can bat. Last year, I got out twice while playing for Pune, when I had an opportunity. This time I ensured I finished the game. MS said ‘pick the balls and react’. Faf and I discussed what to do. He was saying me to take the single, but it worked the other way around. We kept getting the boundaries. That’s (entertainment) what people want. In the end, they got some. The belief was always there. If you have to win, you need to have the belief.
Kane Williamson, SRH captain: Trip to Kolkata now should be interesting. It was a good game of cricket, but if we are honest with ourselves, we were a few runs short with the bat. It was definitely not a 140 wicket. It was a decent wicket and we would have liked 20 more. Saying that, the game swung back our way, the bowlers were outstanding only didn’t execute (in the death) as we have in the past. Now we have to do some hard work in Kolkata to come back here. We certainly back our death bowlers in that position. Most times we would defend that total, but credit to the CSK lower order. They bat a long way down and they kept us under pressure. It is rough being on the other side of close ones, but we have been on the right side a number of times this year. It is important that we learn from this experience. Yeah they do (bat deep). The odd nick and the odd this and that in a low scoring game those count for a lot. At the same time Faf played a beautiful knock for them. We are getting closer (to beating CSK). It would be great to be back here, but one game at a time.