CHENNAI, April 23: Shane Watson brought back memories of last year�s IPL final with a blazing knock that has now almost ensured a play-off berth for Chennai Super Kings as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets here on Tuesday.
On a vastly improved Chepauk track, Watson roared back to form with a 96 off 53 balls as CSK stuttered a bit in the end before winning in 19.5 overs.
Watson�s innings � studded with nine fours and half a dozen sixes � ensured that CSK reached the cut-off limit of 16 points needed for the play-offs. His innings would also be a relief for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had urged the top order to finish matches.
A 77-run stand between Watson and Suresh Raina (38) created the platform and the former Australia all-rounder singlehandedly decimated the Sunrisers attack.
What made it more difficult for the Sunrisers was the fact that their strike bowler Rashid Khan was pulverised by Watson, who took him to the cleaners with 44 coming off his spell.
Sandeep Sharma was another bowler who was handed severe punishment as he went for 54 in 3.5 overs. Sandeep repeatedly bowled short and Watson would gleefully pull him. Skipper Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/18 in 4 overs) had no option but to bowl the 19th over and left Sandeep with nine runs to defend.
However, Kedar Jadhav literally finished the match with a six off the second ball that sealed the deal.
Earlier, the immensely talented Manish Pandey was back in his element as his unbeaten 83 off 49 balls powered Sunrisers to a fighting 175 for 3 after being put into bat.
Pandey and the league�s current leading run-scorer David Warner (57 off 45 balls) added 115 runs for the second wicket to lay the foundation for a decent score on what was the best batting track on offer at Chepauk.
Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh struck an early blow, having the in-form Jonny Bairstow caught behind in the second over for a duck. He was the most successful bowler with figures of 2 for 39 in four overs while Deepak Chahar picked up the wicket of Vijay Shankar (26 off 20 balls).
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 175/3 in 20 overs (Manish Pandey 83 not out, David Warner 57, Vijay Shankar 26; Harbhajan Singh 2/39)
Chennai Super Kings: 176/4 in 19.5 overs (Shane Watson 96, Suresh Raina 38, Ambati Rayudu 21; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/18, Rashid Khan 1/44) � PTI