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Murali Vijay © Gallo Images

Vijay sets up Chennai win amidst Delhi blunders

Murali Vijay was back to his best as his dominating century led the Chennai Super Kings to a thumping 86-run victory over the Delhi Daredevils in their Indian Premier League qualifier at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chepuak on Friday.

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The Daredevils, who topped the round-robin log, will have to reapply their minds when it comes to strategy in the playoff stages as they made some absolute howlers in the two defeats that see them lose out on the final.

In the semifinal, leading wicket-taker Morne Morkel was left out of the team in a shock selection, while the player who replaced him made his IPL debut, conceded 47 runs in three overs and was out first ball.

Captain Virender Sehwag also batted number three in yet another rejigged Delhi batting line-up that failed dismally to come close to their daunting target of 223, subsiding lamely to 136 all out.

Mahela Jayawardene scored 58 off 35 balls for the Daredevils, but key hitters David Warner (3) and Sehwag (1) both failed, South African all-rounder Albie Morkel, the brother of Morne, accounting for the Delhi captain with a short delivery.

Jayawardene and Ross Taylor (24) combined for a third-wicket partnership of 52 in 4.4 overs, but the home crowd were soon cheering the inevitable Chennai victory when Dwayne Bravo removed Taylor with his second ball.

West Indian Andre Russell was sent up the order to have a dip and hit two fours in his 16 off 11 balls, before Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed him and then bowled Jayawardene.

Lower-order batsmen have little chance of getting on top of the tall off-spinner and Ashwin finished with superb figures of three for 23 as Delhi meekly subsided, losing their last wicket in the 17th over.

Australian paceman Ben Hilfenhaus kept things tight at the start of the innings, taking one for 17 in three overs, but any audit of the match will reveal that the Daredevils threw the match away more than Chennai won it.

Vijay scored a cavalier century for the Chennai Super Kings as they posted a massive 222 for five as the Daredevils paid the price for omitting the competition's best strike bowler.

The Super Kings took control from the start, with opener Vijay going on to plunder 113 off just 58 balls - one of the great IPL innings.

Chennai were sent in to bat and Vijay and Michael Hussey (20) made a great start as they added 68 for the first wicket in eight overs.

Delhi will also rue the decision to bring in debutant off-spinner Sunny Gupta, who bowled the first over and had his first two deliveries hammered for four by Vijay as he conceded an awful 47 runs in the three overs he bowled.

Having made some very strange tactical decisions in their qualifier loss to the Kolkata Knight Riders, Sehwag will also regret bringing himself on for an over, which cost 21 runs as Vijay hit him for a pair of sixes and fours.

Varun Aaron was the other Daredevils bowler to have a nightmare, conceding 63 runs in his four overs, although he did take two wickets.

Suresh Raina (27 off 17) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (23 off 10) chipped in to support the rampant Vijay in partnerships of 69 in 5.3 overs and 36 in 2.5 overs respectively, before Bravo blasted 33 not out off just 12 balls to give the Chennai innings a tremendous ending.

Vijay stroked the ball to all corners of the ground to pick up 15 fours and four sixes, being run out off the last ball of the innings.

Fast bowler Umesh Yadav was the best of the Delhi attack, doing exceptionally well to avoid the slaughter as he conceded just 27 runs off his four overs and claimed the wicket of Albie Morkel, wicketkeeper Naman Ojha diving full-length to his left to take a brilliant catch and dismiss the South African first ball.

The IPL wraps up with Sunday's final at the same Chepauk venue, with the Super Kings taking on the Kolkata Knight Riders.

It will be the spin of the mysterious Sunil Narine and his other two slow colleagues against the powerful Chennai batting line-up, for which the return to form of Vijay is an obvious and major boost.

Perhaps more importantly, it will be the big-match performers in the CSK team that will be the key men as they go in search of a hat-trick of titles.

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS – Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel, Subramaniam Badrinath, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ben Hilfenhaus, Shadab Jakati.

DELHI DAREDEVILS - Virender Sehwag (capt), David Warner, Mahela Jayawardene, Naman Ojha (wk), Ross Taylor, Venugopal Rao, Andre Russell, Pawan Negi, Varun Aaron, Sunny Gupta, Umesh Yadav.


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