Gaikwad’s 60 off 44 followed by a commanding display by the bowlers guided Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to their 10th final with a 15-run win over defending champions Gujarat Titans (GT) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 Qualifier 1 at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, here on Tuesday.
Opener Devon Conway was struggling for rhythm but his partner Gaikwad was fluent as usual and stroked to his fourth fifty of the season. GT pulled things back nicely during the middle overs and seemed to have control of the proceedings. Towards the end, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali chipped in with cameos as CSK managed to reach 172/7 in their 20 overs.
In reply, GT couldn’t manage to build up any significant partnerships as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Rashid Khan’s 30-run cameo did give GT a glimmer of hope but CSK bowlers were at their best and bowled out the Titans for 157 in 20 overs to book the ticket to finale.
Chasing 173, the Titans had a shaky start, losing two wickets in the Power-play. Deepak Chahar drew the first blood by dismissing Wriddhiman Saha. Then Maheesh Theekshana struck in the sixth over and got the big wicket of skipper Hardik Pandya. Shubman Gill’s couple of lovely shots took GT to 41 for the loss of two wickets at the end of Power-Play.
The spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Theekshana kept things tight in the next three overs before Shanaka hit a back-to-back boundary and a maximum in the 10th over, taking GT to 72/2.
In the next over, Jadeja removed Dasun Shanaka, who looked to reverse sweep over the point fielder but didn’t get it off the middle of the bat. Theekshana at short third man moved to his right and took a fine catch.
After Matheesha Pathirana’s 10-ball over, Jadeja struck again in the 13th over and cleaned up David Miller, finishing his spell with 2-18. In the next over, Deepak Chahar got the big fish Gill for 42, making the chase tougher as Titans were reduced GT to 88/5 and the asking run rate was over 12 runs per over.
Theekshana bowled the carrom ball and Rahul Tewatia was caught flat-footed deep inside the crease and was unable to tuck it away. The ball beat the bat and crashed into the stumps and, Gujarat lost their sixth wicket and 71 was needed in the next 30 balls.
Then, Rashid Khan and Vijay Shankar went for a few big hits and collected 19 runs in the 17th over to shift some momentum. But momentum again turned in CSK’s favour with two successive wickets. First Pathirana dismissed Shankar on the third ball of the 18th over, then Subhranshu Senapati’s direct hit sent Darshan Nalkande back to the hut.
With 35 needing in 12 balls, Rashid Khan smashed a boundary on the first ball of the penultimate over but, a moment later, Tushar Deshpande dismissed GT’s only hope, Rashid.
When 27 needed off 6, Pathirana conceded a boundary and picked up a wicket of Shami as GT was bowled out for 157 and CSK walked away with 15 runs.
Earlier, batting first, Chennai had a steady yet dramatic start as Gaikwad got caught at mid-wicket in the second over but was lucky to survive as Darshan Nalkande overstepped and the hooter went up. He then smoked over long-on for a six on a free hit and hit a boundary on the next ball.
With some cracking shots from Gaikwad and Conway, CSK reached 49 for no loss at the end of the Power-play. Soon, Gaikwad completed his fifty off 36 balls as CSK reached 85 for no loss at the halfway mark.
When the Titans were looking for a breakthrough, Mohit Sharma struck gold for Gujarat the next over and sent Gaikwad back, ending the 87-run opening stand.
After Gaikwad’s dismissal, the boundaries dried up for Chennai but Conway broke the shackles as he got an outside edge for a four. Then, Ajinkya Rahane whipped one over deep mid-wicket for a six but fell on the next ball.
Piling further miseries, Shami came back on and picked up a wicket right away, dismissing the set batter Conway for 40. Then, Rayudu used the depth of the crease and pulled it a long way over the mid-wicket fence for a maximum before falling on the last ball of the 18th over.
M.S. Dhoni came on to bat to a huge roar from the Chennai crowd. Ravindra Jadeja lofted it over cover for a boundary on the fourth ball of the penultimate over. The next delivery there was a deafening silence inside the ground as Dhoni walked back to the hut.
Jadeja got a boundary in the final before falling on the penultimate ball of the innings as Chennai racked up 172/7 in 20 overs.
Chennai Super Kings 172/7 in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 60, Devon Conway 40; Mohd Shami 2-28, Mohit Sharma 2-31) beat Gujarat Titans (Shubman Gill 42, Rashid Khan 30; Ravindra Jadeja 2-18, Maheesh Theekshana 2-28) by 15 runs – IANS