1. Both teams were facing jinxes: This is the first time that nobody was really favourites in the final. Chennai Super Kings are by far the kings of IPL, but they had lost three finals in a row. That means they were invincible only from the beginning of the tournament to the beginning of the final.
CSK is an all-round team and Sunrisers Hyderabad heavily relies on its bowling. Despite that both had reached the final hurdle. SRH had a severe disadvantage of losing 3/3 times to CSK before the final. But hadn’t that happened the last time. Mumbai Indians lost to MS Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiant thrice and still beat them in the final despite posting a measly 129.
So basically whoever kept their nerves was fated to win.
2. Both captains were leading from the front: There is nothing to talk about Dhoni's captaincy. He is the greatest shorter formats captain of the world ever. But the new thing was that he returned to the Dhoni of old and became a fearsome batsman again. Dhoni had crossed 450 runs in a season only once in 2013, but he did it again in 2018.
Kane Williamson was a revelation. He took to the SRH captaincy like a duck takes to water and marshalled his team’s limited resources to the best. Had you done a SWOT analysis of SRH before the season began, you may have not put SRH in the top 4! Williamson himself saw no captaincy pressure to enter the final with the Orange Cap.
3. Who won the toss? Dhoni won the toss but kept pretending that Williamson did. Despite being in international cricket for 14 years, most of it as a captain cum wicket-keeper cum attacking batsman, the pressure just doesn’t show on Dhoni and he looks as fresh and jovial as ever no matter what the stage of the game and situation.
Someone who did show a bit of nerves was 25-year-old Deepak Chahar, who has never played international cricket, as he bowled a no ball in the very first ball of the match! Luckily the free hit didn’t cross the boundary. Again it was back to Dhoni who didn’t make a mistake in the first chance he got, running out Shreevats Goswami in the second over. Cool as a cucumber!
4. The Williamson-Dhawan show: Williamson and Dhawan have been the twin pillars of the SRH batting throughout the tournament and they did not disappoint in the final. The duo put on 51 runs in 6.4 overs at 7.65 runs an over to give SRH the much needed platform. Just when they were looking threatening Dhoni deployed his trusted Sir Ravindra Jadeja. Jaddu didn’t disappoint. He bowled Dhawan in his very third ball to peg back the opposition.
5. Yusuf torments CSK yet again: In the very first IPL final in 2008, Yusuf Pathan’s 56 off 39 sunk CSK as they lost on the last ball. After that he helped sink Kings XI Punjab with a 36 off 22 for Kolkata Knight Riders. And now he was at it again in 2018.
While almost all the SRH batsmen scored: Williamson 47(36), Shakib Al Hasan 23(15) and Carlos Brathwaite, it was Yusuf’s 45 off 25 that saw the target being a formidable one short of 180. At this stage at least it seemed that Dhoni’s decision to bowl first had spectacularly backfired due to Yusuf who remained not out till the end.
6. CSK’s inauspicious start: If you’re trying to break the jinx of losing three finals in a row and you are chasing a formidable 179, then maybe a maiden over is not the best way to start the innings. Then CSK were just 5/0 after 3 overs. Then they lost a wicket in the next over. At that stage CSK fans must have been having moments of déjà vu. Incidentally that wasn’t even the first maiden over of the match. CSK’s Lungi Ngidi earlier had bowled the fourth over of the SRH innings as a maiden one. Then much later even run machine Ambati Rayudu gave out five dot balls to Rashid Khan and the sixth ball of the over was a leg bye. Even Rayudu was 1(9) before he hit a six.
7. Here’s my number 4666Wd4: Here’s how Shane Watson started his innings: 0000000000. How do you make a comeback from 0(10), especially in the final of a 20 overs tournaments? Well if you’re Watson, you simply say: Been there, done that and simply hit out after that!
In one of the best centuries ever, Watson blasted 117 not out in 57 balls studded with 11 fours and 8 sixes. Watson single-handedly won CSK their third title and shattered the jinx. In fact if you remove the first 10 dot balls, then it was 117* in 47 balls! The 13th over proved quite unlucky for SRH as Watson hit 27 runs in the over: 04666Wd4. That over ended the match for SRH.
8. Watson, rocking at 36: This wasn’t even his first century this season! Watson retired from all forms of international cricket in 2016 and will turn 37 in three odd weeks. But he is in sizzling form and has scored 550 odd runs this season at strike rate of 150+.
In 2011, Watson hit 185 off 96 balls with 15 fours and 15 sixes in an ODI match in just the 26th over! (The match ended because the target was chased) Had he played for 50 overs at the rate, he would have hit a triple century, Rohit Sharma eat your heart out. Watson continues to be in prime form well into 2018.
9. The Midas touch is back: Dhoni was King Midas himself from 2007-13. Then he hit a lean patch from 2014 onwards when he was on the losing side of many IPL finals for CSK and Rising Pune Supergiant, one T20 World Cup and an ICC Champions Trophy.
Now here’s the thing. Despite all these failures, here are his successes from 2014-18 as captain…
2014: T20 Champions League.
2016: Asia Cup.
Dhoni’s lean patch is still better than the purple patch of many other captains!
10. The Return of the Kings: Spare a thought for the heartbreaks of the CSK fans!
2012: Lost in the final.
2013: Lost in the final.
2015: Lost in the final.
2018: Kicked out of their home ground due to politics.
How do you come back from that? Well if you’re Dhoni and CSK, it’s a piece of cake. And now CSK becomes the premier team of the Indian Premier League once again. In 2017, Mumbai Indians became the most successful IPL team: 3 IPLs and 2 Champions Leagues. Now CSK has matched it, but they definitely have more silvers, so they are clearly ahead in the medals tally.
Need we declare a tad bit early that CSK is the rank favourite team to win IPL 2019!
Also by the author this IPL season:
SRH vs KKR - Rashid versus Shah Rukh: Top 10 Talking Points
KKR vs RR IPL Eliminator: Top 10 Talking Points
SRH vs CSK roller-coaster: Top 10 Talking Points
Thala Dhoni roars his 2019 intent in style
Surprising but successful moves & misses of IPL 2018
IPL Snippets: The battle of the spouses
IPL Winners: Is it all about the power of owners?
IPL Snippets: Thala Dhoni - Injured, old, but fighting fit!
Who will be the greatest ever IPL captain after 2018
IPL Snippets: Will this 'ring' help Virat Kohli break title duck?