Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis of the Chennai Super Kings bats against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the final of the Indian Premier League 2021 at the Dubai International Stadium on October 15, 2021. Image Credit: Sportzpics for IPL

Dad’s Army, they call the Chennai Super Kings. Faf du Plessis is one of the dads. That’s why he’s is no longer in the South African team, but CSK have a place for him. They love his experience and strokeplay, and he’s repaid CSK’s faith with plenty of runs. The runs from his flashing blade helped cut down the title aspirations of the Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2021.

CSK openers Du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad look like father and son, mentor and student. At 36, the former South African captain is the senior partner, and he takes care of the early running while Gaikwad, 24, finds his feet. The formula has worked well. Together, they have had the measure of the rival attacks and their partnerships have been a significant factor in Chennai’s wins in Season 14.

Irish Eden Belleza/Gulf News

Last year too, Du Plessis was scoring well even when CSK fortunes plummeted. He and Shane Watson bludgeoned a 10-wicket win in one match. And Du Plessis catches in the deep were a treat to watch. Forget Season 13. CSK have moved past that. They are the champions of 2021. Let’s celebrate that and the man who helped them do that.

Francois du Plessis is not a classical batsman. He’s not even a typical opener. None of that matters in T20 games. Runs are all that matters. And Du Plessis has been delivering them: 633 runs from 16 innings at an average of 45.21. He missed this year’s Orange cap of the leading run-getter by two runs.

The man from Pretoria is not a 360-degree player; he doesn’t play the reverse-sweep often, or even the switch hit. Du Plessis’ hands are all wrapped around the bat, and I wonder how he hits the ball down the field. But he’s been hitting over long-off and long-on. They say the bat turns in his hands. If it does, how does he control the shot? A maverick, really.

more write clicks

For CSK, the man, his method and age are insignificant. Du Plessis’s been scoring runs for Chennai and scoring well and often. And the bigger the match, the bigger is his contribution. Just like the final in Dubai. CSK love it. The Whistle Podu Army (CSK fans) adore him.

But the rivals loathe him. KKR surely will, especially after the demolition job on Friday. Du Plessis first hit KKR’s fastest bowler Lockie Ferguson out of the attack, and with Robin Uthappa, he powered through the middle overs. Kolkata were caught out because that’s where the KKR spinners strangle the batsmen to get below-par targets. Du Plessis’ scoring flagged towards the end, but by then, Moeen Ali had taken over.

CSK couldn’t lose from there unless there was a sustained assault. KKR didn’t have a Du Plessis, and they crumbled after the initial promise.

A trophy in his 100th IPL game. Du Plessis couldn't have asked for a better gift.