Mentor MS Dhoni-led CSK entered the final with a promise of lifting their record-equalling fifth IPL title against his heir-apparent Hardik Pandya but Jadeja and Ambati Rayudu’s sensational cameo (19 off 8 balls) in his swansong helped CSK lift their record-equalling fifty title.
With 13 runs required from the final six deliveries, Mohit Sharma – who brought GT back in the game by dismissing Rayudu and MS Dhoni on golden duck – bowled three tight balls but ended up leaking a six and four on the last two deliveries.
A sea of yellow descended in Ahmedabad waited for more than 24 hours with the hopes of watching their favourite team lift the title. The rain washed out the scheduled final day on Sunday and a day later, they weren’t disappointed as CSK finally managed to pull off an incredible run chase.
CSK lose openers after a brisk start in a big run chase
Soon after the run chase started, the match was truncated by a short rainy spell but it was enough to wet the outfield. The umpires inspected the pitch at 11:30 PM and the match was reduced to 15 overs per side. The target for CSK was revised to 171 in 15 overs. When the play resumed, CSK – who were 4/0 in 3.3 overs – needed 167 more runs in the 14.3 overs.
CSK’s in-form opening pair of Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad shared yet another crucial fifty-plus opening stand in the powerplay overs as the asking rate was above 12 runs per over right from the start of the game.
Devon Conway – who has been a consistent batter for CSK throughout the season – hit Joshua Little over mid-on for a maximum on the final ball of the sixth over and Super Kings reached 72/0 in 6 overs. CSK needed 99 off 54 balls when GT took the strategic time out.
But the set batting duo of Gaikwad (26 off 16) and Conway (47 off 25) were dismissed in a space of three deliveries in the over number seven that was bowled by Afghan spinner Noor Ahmed. The leg-spinner was rewarded for bowling the tight lines and preventing the CSK openers from freeing their arms.
Noor Ahmed shines in the big finale
The pressure to score quickly rested on the shoulders of Shivam Dube and Ajinkya but the big shots weren’t coming easily for the two. Ahmed finished his quota of three overs with 17 runs and bagged two wickets and put a brake on the flow of runs. CSK reached 99/2 at the end of nine overs.
Earlier in the day, uncapped batter B Sai Sudharsan led the charge with a terrific knock of 96 off just 47 balls as defending champions Gujarat Titans posted a mammoth 214/4 after being put in to bat first. Chennai Super Kings – who were sloppy with their fielding – were made to chase an imposing target of 215.
Tamil Nadu cricketer Sudharsan struck eight fours and six sixes to make his runs from a mere 46 balls, forging crucial partnerships along the way and helping GT find their feet in the summit clash after Shubman Gill perished for 39 and Wriddhiman Saha failed to go beyond his half-century.
A big moment arrived in the game as early as in the second over when Tushar Deshpande had Gill flicking a delivery on the leg side as if executing a well-planned delivery but with no success.
Deepak Chahar, positioned at short fine leg, spilled a regulation chance but Gill also could not hurt CSK the way he did Mumbai Indians a few nights ago, here. Saha piled further pressure on the bowler, collecting 16 runs off the third over and providing the Titans momentum.
Gill followed with three consecutive fours off Deshpande, but Chahar’s poor luck continued when spilled a tough return catch off Saha’s bat. The two drops indeed proved costly as GT reached 62 for no loss after the powerplay.
However, the brilliance of MS Dhoni ended Gill’s sensational IPL with the bat, stumping the batter for a 20-ball 39 (7x4s) off Ravindra Jadeja (4-0-38-1) in the seventh over.
With 890 runs in 17 matches with three centuries and four fifties, an average of 59.33 and strike rate of 157.80, the 23-year-old Gill finished with the second best performance for any batter in IPL history.
Saha brought up his second fifty of this IPL in the 13th over but his 64-run stand with B Sai Sudharsan ended in the 14th over, with Chahar getting him caught by Dhoni. Saha hit five fours and a six to make 54 from 39 balls.
The second highest run-scorer for Gujarat Titans this season, Sudharsan accelerated to his third fifty in this IPL, bringing it up with consecutive fours off Matheesha Pathirana.
The young left-handed batter from Chennai recovered well from a sedate start to accelerate after the 14th-over mark, hitting three fours and a six off Deshpande and two sixes against Theekshana.
In fact, Sudharsan was on 36 from 25 balls when Saha was dismissed, and on the next 21 balls he faced, the 21-year-old former CSK academy alumni smacked 60 runs.
However, in the final over, Sudharsan’s carnage ended as Pathirana pinned him in front of the wickets for his first breakthrough in the game. GT skipper Hardik Pandya scored an unbeaten 12-ball 21.
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