|Indian Premier League final, Dubai|
|Chennai Super Kings 192-3 (20 overs): Du Plessis 86 (59); Moeen 37no (20); Narine 2-26|
|Kolkata Knight Riders 165-9 (20 overs): Gill 51 (43), Iyer 50 (32); Thakur 3-38, Hazlewood 2-29|
|Chennai Super Kings won by 27 runs|
Chennai Super Kings have been crowned Indian Premier League champions for the fourth time after beating Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in the final.
Faf du Plessis hit a terrific 86 off 59 balls and Moeen Ali scored a 20-ball 37 as Chennai posted 192-3 from 20 overs.
Shubman Gill (51 off 43) and Venkatesh Iyer (50 off 32) hit half-centuries before Kolkata collapsed, losing eight wickets for 34 runs in Dubai.
Captain Eoin Morgan managed just four as Kolkata reached 165-9.
Chennai, led by captain MS Dhoni, add another trophy to the cabinet, having won the IPL in 2010, 2011 and 2018.
Dhoni refused to say after whether he was going to retire or play another season, but added that “I haven’t left it behind yet” when told he could be proud of his legacy.
For two-time winners KKR, it is a disappointing end after a brilliant comeback in this year’s competition.
KKR were second from bottom when the tournament resumed in the United Arab Emirates last month, after it was suspended in May because of a surge in coronavirus cases in India.
It was a batting masterclass from Du Plessis, raising further questions as to why the 37-year-old was not selected in South Africa’s Men’s T20 World Cup squad.
Du Plessis’s knock included seven fours and three sixes as he showcased a repertoire of shots, from powerful blows down the ground to delightful timing which found the gaps.
Lockie Ferguson endured a torrid time at the hands of Du Plessis, the New Zealand left-arm fast bowler finishing with 0-56 from his four overs.
Du Plessis and fellow opener Ruturaj Gaikwad shared their own sub-plot during the Chennai innings.
At the start of the match, KL Rahul was the top run-scorer in this season’s IPL with 626 runs, but both Du Plessis (547 runs) and Gaikwad (603 runs) were in the reckoning to overtake the Punjab Kings captain.
Gaikwad’s 32 from 27 balls shot him to the top of the list and he looked guaranteed to take the coveted orange cap. Du Plessis had other ideas and, off the final ball of the innings, he needed three runs to dislodge his team-mate – but was caught in the deep, meaning Gaikwad finished top.
England’s Moeen also unleashed some huge hits, including three sixes, while Robin Uthappa contributed an important 31 off 15 balls in a dominant CSK batting display.
In the 2012 final, KKR chased 191 against CSK. In the 2014 final, they chased 200 against Kings XI Punjab.
Morgan’s team would not go without a fight and in reply they reached 55-0 after the powerplay – five runs ahead of where Chennai were after six overs.
Iyer, 26, is arguably the find of this season’s IPL and, once again, played fearless cricket..
Drafted in by Kolkata when the tournament resumed last month, Iyer scored his fourth IPL half-century in just 10 innings to finish with 370 runs at an average of 41.11.
With Kolkata at 88-0 after 10 overs, a close finish was on the cards, but Shardul Thakur produced a fantastic over to dismiss Iyer and then Nitesh Rana for a golden duck.
Thakur was the standout bowler, taking 3-38 and finishing with 21 IPL wickets this year.
Sunil Narine was dismissed for two, Ravindra Jadeja – one of the finest fielders in world cricket – taking his second catch as KKR started to crumble.
Gill, who scored 478 runs this campaign, reached his third half-century of the season, before he was out lbw to Deepak Chahar.
Morgan’s disappointing IPL
The stage was set for Morgan – who came to the crease with his team needing 96 off 51 – to play the type of innings which has entertained England fans in recent years.
While his captaincy has been pivotal in KKR’s comeback, Morgan has struggled with the bat, particularly since the resumption.
And he could only watch from the non-striker’s end as Dinesh Karthik fell for nine, Shakib Al Hasan for a first-ball duck and Rahul Trapathi for two.
Morgan’s night came to an end courtesy of a stunning catch from Chahar on the boundary.
Chahar had to fling the ball in the air as his momentum took him over the boundary rope, before jumping back into the field of play and taking the grab.
What next for Dhoni?
A tournament which started on 9 April in Chennai, India, finally ended 190 days later in the UAE.
CSK’s celebrations will be shorter than usual, with many of their stars joining their respective international teams for the T20 World Cup.
Focus is now likely to turn towards the future of captain Dhoni.
The 40-year-old has led the team to all of their trophy wins since the competition launched in 2008.
Amongst his personal achievements, Dhoni has played the most IPL matches by any player (230) and is eighth in the list of highest run-scorers (4,746).
Asked about his future at the post-match presentation, Dhoni said it depends on what happens with two new franchises set to be added for the 2022 season.
“We have to decide what is good for CSK – it’s not about me being there in the three or four retained players,” he said.
“It’s about making a strong core to ensure the franchise doesn’t suffer. We have to see who can contribute for the next 10 years.”
Presenter and commentator Harsha Bhogle then said he could be “proud of the legacy you have left behind,” to which Dhoni replied: “I haven’t left it behind yet.”
Whatever the outcome, his legacy of being one of – if not the – finest IPL players and captains of all time has been firmly cemented.
‘I never thought I’d win the IPL’ – reaction
CSK captain MS Dhoni: “We had match-winners coming game after game and doing really well.
“I would love to thank the fans. Wherever we’ve played, we’ve always had a good number of CSK fans. Hopefully we’ll be back in Chennai in full stadiums next year.”
CSK and England all-rounder Moeen Ali: “It’s amazing, I can’t describe it really. I never thought I’d win the IPL and to do it with this team is amazing.
“MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming are so calm and clear with what they want to do. It’s such a grounded and humble team to be part of.”
Player of the match, CSK opener Faf du Plessis: “That was a great day. I have loved my time at CSK.
“Ruturaj Gaikwad is a special talent. He’s got a super, bright future ahead of him. I have a word with him, but I don’t think he needs me.”
KKR captain Eoin Morgan: “I’m extremely proud of the fight we showed throughout the tournament, especially the character we showed after not getting the start we wanted.”