Shane Watson hit a belligerent unbeaten century as Chennai Super Kings won their third Indian Premier League title with a thumping eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the final on Sunday.
It was a perfect comeback for Chennai after a two-year ban due to corruption charges.
Chennai, playing in its seventh IPL final, had previously won back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011.
“Every win is special, so difficult to pick any one win,” Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.
The 36-year-old Watson smashed 117 off 57 balls as Chennai cruised to 181-2 in 18.3 overs against a team known for successfully defending its total.
Earlier, after being put into bat, captain Kane Williamson (47) missed out on his ninth half-century in this year’s IPL and Yusuf Pathan made an unbeaten 45 to lift Hyderabad’s total to 178-6.
The 36-year-old Watson smartly orchestrated the run-chase by hitting 11 fours and eight sixes while keeping strike bowlers — Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0-17) and Rashid Khan (0-24) — wicketless.
Together with Suresh Raina, who scored 32, Watson featured in a 117-run second wicket stand and took the game away from Hyderabad.
Watson, who only scored his first run off his 11th delivery, took charge against seamer Sandeep Sharma (1-52) and Sidarth Kaul (0-43) with his exquisite pull shots and deft cuts.
“Things fell my way nicely tonight, but to be able to do it in such a big game, it’s very special,” Watson said.
“After those first 10 balls, I was hoping to catch up … once the ball stopped swinging, it got easier.”
The Australian all-rounder raised his half-century off 33 balls with a six over midwicket off left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan.
He then smashed two fours and three successive sixes off Sandeep in the 13th over which went for 27 runs as Williamson ran out of ideas over how to stem the flow of runs.
Watson completed his second IPL century of the season off 51 balls with a single at cover off Rashid’s last over before smashing the Afghanistan legspinner for two consecutive boundaries.
Hyderabad’s innings lost its momentum once opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan (26) was clean bowled by Ravindra Jadeja in the ninth over with the total on 64.
Williamson became only the fifth batsman in IPL history to score more than 700 runs in a season but he was outfoxed by legspinner Karn Sharma and was stumped by Dhoni in the 13th over.
Williamson was the top-scorer in the tournament with 735 runs at an impressive average of 52.50 and strike rate of 142.44.
Yusuf and Brathwaite (21 not out), who hit three sixes in the last three overs, lifted Hyderabad’s total.
“We thought it’ll be a competitive total, but the pitch did hold a bit,” Williamson said. “The boys are hurting at the moment, but we’ve fought hard.”unb