Mumbai, May 30: Turning the clock back, Virender Sehwag showed his vintage best with a power-packed century as Kings XI Punjab humbled Chennai Super Kings by 24 runs to reach the IPL final for the first time, here today.
Sehwag flattened the CSK attack with a 58-ball 122, which propelled his side to an imposing 226 for six after being invited to bat on a batting paradise at Wankhede stadium.
The Punjab side then survived carnage from Suresh Raina, who responded with a majestic 25-ball 87, as CSK managed 202 for seven in their chase. The hand-eye coordination, which has got Sehwag thousands of runs in international cricket, was at work again as he punished the hapless CSK bowlers with utter disdain, smashing his way to the highest individual score of this season.
CSK skipper M S Dhoni shuffled his bowlers around but there was no stopping Sehwag, who entertained the Wankhede crowd with eight sixes and 12 fours. Sehwag became only the second batsman this season to score a century after Mumbai Indians' Lendl Simmons, who had scored an unbeaten 100 against Punjab only.
And this is not first time Sehwag has scored a hundred in IPL, his first coming in 2011 for Delhi Daredevils against Deccan Chargers. Punjab will now fight it out for the title with Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday in Bangalore.
No team had ever chased a 227-run target in T20 history but Raina came up with an extraordinary knock which stunned the Punjab side and turned the match on its head. Raina raced to second fastest fifty in IPL in just 16 balls when he lifted Sandeep Sharma over covers for a six.
In six overs, CSK were unbelievably placed at 100 for two with Raina batting on 87 from 25 balls with 84 of them coming in boundaries, 12 fours and six awe-inspiring sixes. However, Raina was run out in the first ball after the power-play overs.
Brendon McCullum called for a run but George Bailey found Raina short of crease with his direct hit. One of the most regal innings in T20s met with a tragic end but it opened up the game and Chennai were back in the match after a forgettable effort with the bowl.
Raina's dismissal though opened up the gates as wickets starting tumbling. Brendon McCullum (11) met with the same fate as that of Raina and Ravindra Jadeja (27) was caught brilliantly by Mitchell Johnson off Parvinder Awana.
David Hussey (1) fell in that same Awana over, leaving his skipper Dhoni with an unenvious task of scoring 84 runs from 42 balls. Dhoni has been an incredible finisher for his side but today his unbeaten 42 was not enough.