Gaikwad’s flamboyance helps Chennai Super Kings qualify for 10th IPL Final

Chennai Super Kings defeat Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 1 of IPL 2023

Another season and another finals spot secured for the Chennai Super Kings as Ruturaj Gaikwad’s half-century and the team’s bowling prowess extract a ticket in the final, defeating Hardik Pandya’s men by 15 runs in Qualifier 1 of the IPL 2023 Playoffs.

Winning the toss, Hardik Pandya, the skipper of Gujarat Titans and o[ted to bowl first. The Super Kings named an unchanged playing XI whereas the Titans brought in Vidarbha-based pacer Darshan Nalkande for Yash Dayal. 

Mohammed Shami operated with the new ball for the defending champions and got a nice bit of out-seam movements as Ruturaj Gaikwad faced the bulk of the first over, keeping Devon Conway at bay. Nalkande operated with the cork in hand alongside Shami and bowled some impressive deliveries before he outsmarted Gaikwad which eventually turned into a no-ball. 

The chance turned out to be costly for the Titans as the Maharashtra cricketer went on to notch up a half-century. Conway succoured Gaikwad well throughout the opening stand and the duo went on to score 87 runs together. The hard new ball came nicely to the bat and the white cherry was seen flowing around the park off the blade of the Indian batter. Although Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad were introduced early within the powerplay, it failed to make an impact. 

It was Mohit Sharma who drew the first blood as he got the better of Gaikwad in the 11th over. Shivam Dube joined Conway in the middle but failed to spark this day. Noor Ahmed rattled his timbers as the hard-hitter looked to slog across the line and depart. 

The Black Caps opener ticked the scoreboard along with Ajinkya Rahane for a brisk period, glueing 31 runs, before Darshan Nalkande removed him in the 15th over. Conway followed him too, failing to time the ball for a long time, and departed for 40 off 34 balls. 

The tables were turned towards the Titans as the pitch got slower with the passage of time. But it was Ambati Rayudu’s 17 off 9 and Ravindra Jadeja’s 22 off 16 that helped CSK go past the 170 runs mark. MS Dhoni did arrive to bat and the stadium was enlightened by his presence. But the fans were at the receiving end of watching their superhero get outwitted by a back-of-the-hand slower one from his former CSK mate, Mohit Sharma. 

At the end of the innings, the Yellow Army managed to score 172 runs for the loss of seven wickets. Shami and Sharma extracted two wickets, with Nalkande, Rashid, and Noor sharing the remaining ones in equal distribution.

CSK bowlers dominated the middle phases of the second innings

Arriving for a tricky chase, Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill kickstarted the innings watchfully. Deepak Chahar and Tushar Deshpande operated with the new cork for CSK as usual and enforced lateral movements for the first two overs where they conceded just 5 runs. In a move to up the ante, Saha holed out to Matheesha Pathirana at the deep and gifted Deepak Chahar with the first breakthrough. 

Hardik Pandya struck around for a while but failed to lead his side from the front in the run chase. Sri Lankan white ball skipper Dasun Shanaka was promoted up the order at no. 4 and tailored 31 runs with Gill for the third wicket. It was the spinners of CSK who dragged the ball in their court as Ravindra Jadeja and Maheesh Theekshana made the GT middle-order dance around the crease. 

Jadeja cleaned up Miller, followed by Chahar getting the better of on-song Gill. The Titans were curtailed down to 98-6 after 14.3 overs as Rahul Tewatia’s timbers were uprooted by the Sri Lankan finger spinner.

Rashid followed in and batted with a ‘never give up attitude’. Vijay Shankar joined with some lusty blows. The pair amassed 13 runs off the 16th over from Matheesha Pathirana and 19 runs off the next over from Tushar Deshpande. The duo narrowed down the requirements to 39 runs needed off the last three overs. 

But a turnaround succeeded the slaughter as Pathirana bucketed Shankar in the 18th over. This widened the crack in the Titans’ batting order with Rashid Khan being dismissed in the 19th over off the bowling of Tushar Deshpande. Despite some wayward deliveries in the ultimate over of the match, Pathirana ended up getting the better of Mohammed Shami in the final ball of the contest, thereby hitting the final nail in the coffin. 

Theekshana, Pathirana, Chahar, and Jadeja scalped two wickets each for CSK whereas Tushar Deshpande bagged a solitary wicket with the costliest economy rate of all Super Kings’ bowlers

Gujarat Titans fell short by 15 runs and Chennai Super Kings went one step ahead to reserve a spot in the finals. On the flip side, the Titans will be playing the second qualifier with the winner of the Eliminator between Mumbai Indians face off Lucknow Super Giants.