A blistering 122 from 58 balls from Virender Sehwag was the focal point in booking Kings XI Punjab into their first ever Indian Premier League final.
The opener’s superb smashing was influential in providing a 24-run victory in the second semi-final, against Chennai Super Kings.
As a result, George Bailey’s side will now face Kolkata Knight Riders in the tournament decider on Sunday.
The last leg of their journey to the final was made more manageable by top-scorer, Sehwag. Batting for the majority of his team’s innings, the 35-year-old contributed more than half of Kings XI’s runs.
Whilst he was entertaining the crowd with 12 fours and eight sixes, Sehwag’s teammates resorted to performing supporting roles.
Manan Vohra contributed 34 towards the opening partnership of 110, before David Miller’s pyrotechnics added another 38 to the total from only 19 balls.
Sehwag was eventually dismissed for 122 – his highest-ever T20 score – in the penultimate over, but not before he had largely provided Chennai with a target of 227 to chase down in Mumbai.
That mammoth total looked attainable in the early overs of the second innings. If Sehwag’s century was impressive, then Suresh Raina’s quick fire 87 was even better.
An astonishing strike rate of 348 was maintained throughout his 25-ball stay at the crease, as Chennai set a new world record for a cricket power play.
At the end of the sixth over, the scoreboard had ticked along rather consistently to read 100-2. It had been a slow start with the dismissal of Faf du Plessis for a duck, but Raina gave his side a real chance in the game.
The India international dispatched his very first delivery away to the boundary, sending a message about the remainder of his knock.
And there was little that a Kings XI bowling attack – including Mitchell Johnson – could do about him.
Nevertheless, there was a steady stream of batsmen who were making the return trip from the pavilion to the middle. Ravindrasinh Jadeja later chipped in with 27, but it was Raina who was making real inroads.
Unfortunately for the chasers, their danger man was dismissed in just the seventh over, having already amassed 87 runs.
Further down the order, captain, MS Dhoni, valiantly made 42* from 31 balls, but it was not enough to surpass the Kings XI total.
The 200 was brought up by the end of the innings, as Chennai eventually lost by 24 runs.
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