Sunday, June 1, 2008


The Chennai Super Kings will play the Rajasthan Royals in the first Indian Premier League final in Mumbai on Sunday after overwhelming the Kings XI Punjab in a one-sided semifinal on Saturday.

The Super Kings, coached by Kepler Wessels, were inspired by a fiery new-ball performance by Makhaya Ntini, as they set up a showdown with the Jaipur franchise in today's multi-million dollar showpiece finale.

Ntini was outstanding, as he claimed the wickets of Punjab's Australian openers Shaun Marsh, the competition's leading run-scorer, and James Hopes in an aggressive four-over spell at the start.

Punjab captain Yuvraj Singh chose to bat at the toss, presumably trying to replicate Rajasthan's efforts in the previous evening's semifinal. However, Chennai's bowlers were magnificent, with Ntini showing his class from the beginning
The game was as good as won after 10 overs. By that stage, Punjab had slumped to 45/6 with the heart of their batting, comprising Yuvraj, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Irfan Pathan, all back in the dugout.

Marsh was the only member of the top order to show any fight, scoring 23 off 17 balls, but even his innings had a touch of good fortune about it, as Ntini could have had him twice, first when a top edge sailed over the keeper's head for six, and then when he got a thick inside edge past the stumps.

The second time he inside-edged the ball, though, it crashed into his stumps, and with Marsh's dismissal went Punjab's hopes of victory.

Ntini, who claimed 2/23 in four overs, was well supported by Manpreet Gony, who bowled tightly, finishing with figure of 2/14.

Chennai's openers Parthiv Patel and Vidyut Sivanamakrishnan started steadily and, though Vidyut got out, Parthiv and Suresh Raina made sure there was no dramatic ending. Both completed half- centuries as their side got home with 31 balls to spare.

Graeme Smith, the Rajasthan Royals opener, has been ruled out of today's final through injury

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