The ever so consistent Chennai Super Kings cruised into the final of TATA IPL 2023 as they beat Gujarat Titans by 15 runs in Qualifier 1 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
Ruturaj Gaikwad starred with the bat as he hit a flamboyant 60(44) to lay the platform. Ambati Rayudu (17 off 9) and Ravindra Jadeja (22 off 16) then played brisk knocks to provide crucial late flourish and take CSK to a competitive 172/7. Ravindra Jadeja (2/18) and Maheesh Theekshana (2/28) then spun a web around the GT batters with spin, pace and bounce as a collective bowling effort saw CSK bowl GT out for 157 and cruise into their 10th IPL final.
Chasing 173, Gujarat Titans got off to a mixed start as they lost Wriddhiman Saha inside the Powerplay and would have had Shubman Gill back in the hut too but Deepak Chahar couldn’t hold on to a tough catch at mid on. In between the opening pair cracked a couple of fours and a six. Hardik Pandya got going with a brilliant drive on the up through cover-point for a four and Gill hit another marvellous flick for the second four in the next over from Tushar Deshpande as the pair took 10 off it. Dhoni then introduced Maheesh Theekshana in the sixth over and he struck to have GT captain Pandya caught at backward point. GT reached 41/2 at the end of the Powerplay.
GT sent Dasun Shanaka up the order at No.4. The Sri Lankan all-rounder got together with Gill and stabilised the innings. Gill hit an odd four an over while Shanaka then upped the ante going after Theekshana, hitting him for a four and a six to take GT to 72/2 at the halfway mark.
Shanaka though couldn’t continue for long as he mistimed his reverse sweep to short third man off Jadeja in the next over. GT kept losing wickets at regular intervals as two overs later Jadeja struck a crucial blow as he cleaned up David Miller. But the big moment arrived in the next over as Dhoni brought back Chahar and he had the set Gill (42 off 38) caught at deep square leg off a slower short ball. GT got derailed in the 11 to 14 over phase with the loss of three wickets.
The wickets continued to fall as Theekshana cleaned up Rahul Tewatia in the next over as GT were reduced to 98/6 in the 15th over. With 71 needed off 30 and the required rate above 14, Rashid Khan provided some relief, hitting a six and a four off Pathirana to take 13 off the over. Shankar and Rashid cracked two sixes and a four off Deshpande in the next over to take 19 off it as the equation came to 39 needed off 18.
A couple of moments of brilliance saw the match turn again as Ruturaj pulled off a stupendous diving catch at deep mid-wicket off Pathirana to send back Shankar (14 off 10) and then substitute fielder Subhranshu Senapati ran out Darshan Nalkande via a brilliant direct hit off the next ball. Pathirana bowled a splendid 18th over, conceding just 4 runs. With 35 needed off 12, Rashid Khan(30 off 16) cracked a four off Deshpande but two balls later he hit a low full toss straight to deep point. Deshpande bowled a good over and gave away just eight including the crucial wicket of Rashid.
With 27 needed off the last over, Gujarat Titans could manage just 11 runs as Pathirana picked up the final wicket of Shami to spark wild celebrations in the stands as CSK marched into their 10th IPL final, more than any other team in the competition.
Earlier, Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya won the toss and elected to bowl. They made one change to the starting XI as Darshan Nalkande replaced Yash Dayal.
Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand, named an unchanged eleven. They named Matheesha Pathirana, Mitchell Santner, Subhranshu Senapatim Shaik Rasheed and Akash Singh as their substitutes.
Qualifier 1 got off to an eventful start as Darshan Nalkande had Ruturaj Gaikwad caught at short mid-wicket but a few seconds later the ground siren rang signalling a NO BALL as Nalkande had overstepped. Ruturaj made Nalkande pay for the error as he cracked the next one over long on for a six and then cracked one through covers for four. A couple more wide of third man made it 14 runs off the over.
That Nalkande over was sandwiched between two very good overs from Shami who bowled with discipline and accuracy along with a bit of a swing to make it just 8 runs from his two overs. Nalkande came back well and gave away 8 runs in the next over. He had conceded just four off the first five balls but Conway pierced the gap through the off side to hit a four through point off the last ball. Ruturaj and Conway didn’t let the spinners settle in as Gaikwad lofted one over extra cover off Rashid Khan for a four and the duo took 9 off it and then they hit a couple of fours off Noor Ahmad to take another 9 off the over as CSK reached 49/0 at the end of the Powerplay.
The duo brought up another 50-run stand, off 38 balls, their ninth 50+ stand in the tournament so far. Ruturaj then brought up his fifty, off 36 balls, as he carved one over point for a four. He followed it up with a streaky four off an inside edge to fine leg three balls later as they accumulated 12 off it. Conway sliced one over backward point for a four off Noor Ahmad as CSK reached 85/0 at the halfway stage.
Mohit finally broke the opening stand as he had Ruturaj (60 off 44) caught at long on off a mistimed heave. GT got two in quick succession as Noor got the important wicket of Dube(1 off 3). Dube went for a powerful swing but was beaten by the wrong’un and found the stumps knocked down. GT choked the scoring and then Conway received a reprieve as Saha couldn’t hold on to a tough catch behind the stumps off Rashid.
Conway and Rahane then took the attack to Nalkande, Conway got a fortuitous four off an outside edge which flew wide of the keeper and Rahane flicked one for a six over deep square leg. Nalkande however bounced back to have Rahane (17 off 10) caught at point off the next ball.
Rayudu arrived, charged and smashed the first ball over extra cover for a four. However, CSK lost Conway (40 off 34) off the very next ball as Shami came back and had the New Zealand batter caught at deep mid-wicket. The boundaries dried down again as the 16th and 17th over went boundaryless with just 12 runs scored. Rayudu finally broke the drought, after 16 balls as he smacked one over deep mid-wicket off Rashid Khan. But the Afghanistan star hit back hard to send back Rayudu (17 off 9) next ball as he miscued one to deep mid-wicket.
Jadeja lofted one over extra cover off Mohit for a four in the penultimate over but Mohit struck two balls later to have the CSK captain caught at extra cover off a slower ball, much to the disappointment of the Chepauk crowd.
Jadeja and Moeen then provided the late flourish as they hit a four and a six to take 15 off the last over before Jadeja (22 off 16) was cleaned up off the last ball of the over as CSK posted
GT introduced Vijay Shankar as their Impact Player, replacing Mohit Sharma, at the start of the second innings while CSK introduced Matheesha Pathirana as their Impact Player in the first over of the second innings.