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IPL Final: Faf du Plessis propels Chennai Super Kings to 27-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders

Eoin Morgan fails again with bat as Knight Riders slump from 91-0 to 125-8 after being set 193 to win; Moeen Ali blasts 37no in Chennai's 192-3, which features 86 off 59 balls from du Plessis; Gaikwad beats du Plessis to Orange Cap by two runs; Bangalore's Harshal Patel takes Purple Cap

Faf du Plessis celebrates reaching his fifty in the IPL final against Kolkata
Image: Faf du Plessis celebrates reaching his fifty in the IPL final against Kolkata

Faf du Plessis' commanding 86 set Chennai Super Kings on course for a 27-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2021 IPL final in Dubai.

The South African struck three sixes and seven fours off 59 balls, with Ruturaj Gaikwad (32), Robin Uthappa (31 off 15) and Moeen Ali (37no off 20) also weighing in as Super Kings racked up 192-3.

Shubman Gill (50) and Venkatesh Iyer (51) replied with half-centuries at the top of Kolkata's chase but there was to be no denying Chennai their fourth IPL title as Shardul Thakur (3-38), Josh Hazlewood (2-29) and Ravindra Jadeja (2-37) combined to restrict Kolkata to 165-9.

Kolkata - playing in their first IPL final since winning the tournament for the second time in 2014 - were quickly under the pump after Eoin Morgan decided to bowl first.

Chennai's prolific opening pairing of Du Plessis and Gaikwad again set the standard by putting on 61 in 8.1 overs, although the South African should have been stumped by Dinesh Karthik off Shakib Al Hasan's bowling on two.

Gaikwad overtook KL Rahul as the tournament's leading run-scorer when he reached 24 and his final tally of 635 would prove just sufficient to hold off team-mate Du Plessis, who got to within two runs.

Kolkata lost Rahul Tripathi to a hamstring strain before earning their first breakthrough as Gaikwad failed to clear Shivam Mavi at long-off, off the bowling of Sunil Narine (2-26).

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Uthappa - previously the only batsman in IPL history to claim the Orange Cup and win the trophy in the same year - was quickly into his work, swinging Shakib over midwicket for the first of three sixes in his innings.

Du Plessis was equally brutal, posting his 22nd IPL fifty off 35 balls by launching Lockie Ferguson down the park.

The pair put on 63 off 34 balls before Uthappa - dropped on 13 when Narine could not hold onto a fierce return drive - fell lbw to the spinner attempting to reverse sweep.

There was no let-up from Chennai as Moeen Ali and Du Plessis added a further 68 off 40 balls, the Englishman tuning up for the World T20 with an unbeaten 37 off just 20 balls.

Two of Moeen's three sixes came off Mavi's third over before the seamer rallied in his fourth to pick up the wicket of Du Plessis as he attempted to launch the last ball of the innings for six.

Kolkata's chase should have suffered an early blow when Iyer snicked a rising Hazlewood ball behind before he had scored but the bounce seemed to surprise MS Dhoni, who shelled the chance.

The next delivery disappeared over the rope behind square, kickstarting a partnership between Iyer and Gill that reached 50 off just 5.4 overs.

The openers matched the fluency they displayed in putting on 96 in Wednesday's Qualifier 2 win over Delhi despite Chennai's attempts to take pace off - Iyer moving to 41no off 25 with a 92m six over wide long-on off Jadeja.

Another maximum off the spinner's next over helped him to reach his fourth IPL fifty off just 31 balls.

Gill had 27 off 25 balls when he appeared to be caught in the deep by Rayudu off Jadeja only for the ball to be called dead as it struck one of the wires supporting Spider Cam.

Jadeja remained in the thick of the action, keeping his composure to grab a catch in the deep as Iyer sliced Thakur high to deep cover, making the score 91-1 off 10.4 overs.

Nitish Rana didn't last out the over - presenting a catch to du Plessis at mid-off and falling for a first-ball duck as a Thakur delivery appeared to stick in the pitch.

The match tilted further in Chennai's favour as Narine (two) picked out Jadeja on the deep midwicket boundary of the bowling of Hazlewood - the third wicket to fall in the space of six runs.

The wicket brought out-of-nick Eoin Morgan to the crease with the asking rate approaching 12 runs an over, the weight of the chase very much on Gill's shoulders as he reached fifty off 40 deliveries.

Kolkata's Shubman Gill acknowledges the applause for his half-century
Image: Kolkata's Shubman Gill acknowledges the applause for his half-century

It appeared to take its toll as the opener attempted to scoop Chahar only to be trapped plumb lbw and although Karthik pulled his first ball for six, he fell attempting to clear the rope again.

Jadeja fired down a wide before sending Shakib Al Hasan back for a first-ball duck and a hobbling Tripathi (two) had no option but to swing, clothing Thakur to Moeen Ali at long-on.

Any faint hopes Morgan's presence at the crease offered fell away when the England skipper pulled a Hazlewood slower ball to Chahar, who kept his composure on the deep square rope and released the ball as he stepped over the rope before grabbing it again as he stepped back onto the field of play.

It meant Morgan ended the tournament with just 133 runs from 16 knocks at an average of 11.08 with England's opening match of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup a little over a week away.

A late flurry of runs from Ferguson and Mavi left Kolkata needing an unlikely 31 off the final over and Dwayne Bravo delivered the trophy in style by conceding just three singles and picking up Mavi's wicket in the process.

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