South African skipper Faf du Plessis pulled off a 'Houdini Act' to guide Chennai Super Kings to their seventh Indian Premier League final with a two-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in what has been a fairytale comeback in the T20 league, in Mumbai, on Tuesday.
Chasing a modest target of 140, CSK were down in dumps at 92 for seven at one stage before du Plessis (67 off 42 balls) engineered a stunning comeback and fittingly finished the match with a straight six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the final.
With 43 needing off last three overs, du Plessis, who opened the batting, launched into Carlos Brathwaite's 18th over smashing him for 20 runs which included three fours and a six. Having done precious little in the tournament so far, the stylish right-hander put his hand up when it mattered most.
Siddarth Kaul bowling the 19th over paid for his inexperience in crunch game as 17 runs came off that over with No. 10 Shardul Thakur (15 off 5 balls) hitting three boundaries including two off edges before du Plessis finished off the match in the nexdt over.
Banned for two seasons on charges of corruption, the most successful franchise in the history of T20 cricket played like a team possessed with their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni once again at the forefront with a calm demeanour.
However, Sunrisers bowlers deserve credit for making a match of a small total but this time their luck ran out in the end.
Shane Watson (0) edged one off Bhuvneshwar Kumar while Kaul (2/32) castled Suresh Raina (22 off 13 balls) and in-form Ambati Rayudu (0) off successive deliveries.
Dhoni failed to read a googly from Rashid Khan while Dwayne Bravo was done in by extra bounce edging one to Shikhar Dhawan at slip.
The experienced du Plessis waged a lone battle as wickets fell in a heap at the other end with Sandeep Sharma getting rid of Ravindra Jadeja and Deepak Chahar.
Earlier, Chennai Super Kings bowling attack utilised lively Wankhede Stadium to the fullest restricting Sunrisers Hyderabad to a modest 139 for seven.
Effective seam bowling in Powerplay overs swung the game towards two-time champions early on in the innings and they never let it slacken except towards the end when Carlos Brathwaite (43 off 29 balls) laid into Shardul Thakur.
Skipper Kane Willamson (24), Yusuf Pathan (24) and Brathwaite (43 in 29 balls) were the useful contributors for Sunrisers on a track that offered good bounce.
CSK pegged back Sunrisers at 47 for 3 with both Williamson and opener Shikhar Dhawan (0) back in the dugout.
Dhawan, the second-highest scorer for Sunrisers with 437 runs, inside edged Deepak Chahar back on to his stumps off the first delivery of the match.
The in-form Williamson, produced three hits to the fence off the last three balls in the same over, an exquisite extra cover drive being the pick.
From the other end, Lungi Ngidi packed off the other opener Shreevats Goswami by accepting a smart return catch, when the left-hander miscued the pull shot.
Things only got worse for Sunrisers when when they lost their skipper Williamson, who was caught down the leg side off a short ball from Thakur to leave his team reeling on 36 for three, in the fifth over.
CSK continued to chip away at the wickets. Shakib Al Hasan also fell to a leg-side catch by Dhoni off Dwayne Bravo (2/25) and it left Sunrisers at a spot at 50 for four.
Ravindra Jadeja sent back Manish Pandey cheaply, caught and bowled off a leading edge before Bravo pulled off a stunner, pouching on to a low full-blooded drive from Pathan.
A late flurry from West Indian Brathwaite, who slammed Thakur for four huge sixes and a four in death overs, boosted the total significantly as Sunrisers scored 41 from the last three overs.