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    Written by Jamie Alter
    MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya IPL

    CSK smash feeble GT to go straight to IPL 2023 final

    May 24, 2023

    That Chennai’s MA Chidambaram has increasingly become a difficult place to bat was evident before a ball was bowled in Qualifier 1 between table-toppers Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings. Where once 200 was achievable, as IPL 2023 has lumbered on and the Chennai surfaces have worn down, totals have dipped to under 150.

    Thus, CSK getting their way to 172/7 in 20 overs, which is the highest total at the venue since April 30, proved decisive after GT captain Hardik Pandya backed his team to chase and put the hosts into bat. This tactic may have worked for GT in most cases, but to do so in a playoff match in Chennai, where this team has not played a single match, and against the master of the squeeze, MS Dhoni, was a poor decision.

    This reiterated the fact that when you don’t know how a pitch will play, or what a winning total is, just bat, dew or no dew. And for the record, there was next to no dew in Chennai on Tuesday evening.

    Given the advantage by Pandya on a track on which they have played several games, Chennai were put on their way towards a match-winning total by their leading run-getters this season, Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad, who put on 87 in 10.3 overs for the opening wicket. Gaikwad dominated this partnership, outscoring Conway 60 to 24, and on that surface the right-hander’s aggression left GT searching for answers. It did not help matters that Darshan Nalkande, who replaced Yash Dayal, over-stepped in his first over to give Gaikwad a reprieve on 2. Gaikwad smacked the next two balls from Nalkande for 10 runs to set himself on his merry way.

    It is a rare day that Mohammed Shami, the Purple Cap holder for most wickets, does not strike inside the Powerplay and when Rashid Khan’s first two overs went for 18 runs, Hardik Pandya wore a worried look.

    The first wicket fell in the 11th over when Gaikwad miscued Mohit Sharma down to the long-on fielder, and one brought two. In the following over, Shivam Dube slogged at Noor Ahmad and missed everything. Conway’s struggles to force the ball away saw him make an unconvincing 40 off 34 balls, an innings that ended when he whipped Shami to midwicket. Ajinkya Rahane also fell trying to force the pace, steering a shortish delivery from Nalkande straight to point.

    From here, useful cameos from Ambati Rayudu (17 off nine balls) and Ravindra Jadeja (22 off 16) pushed CSK to 172. Gujarat never looked like getting anywhere close, such was their timidity against quality spin.

    Both GT openers lived charmed lives during the Powerplay, with several chipped shots just evading leaping fielders, and it was just a matter of time before Wriddhiman Saha once again failed to provide a start. The second wicket fell in the sixth over when Hardik slapped a hittable delivery from Mahesh Theekshana straight to point.

    Gill, by this stage 20 from 17 balls, had to manage the risks from here but he fell trying to swat Deepak Chahar for six. Here, Dhoni’s touch was evident. Jadeja had just bowled David Miller for another low score, and Dhoni called back Chahar for his final over. Bowling stump-to-stump, Chahar dragged back the length and drew a false shot from Gill who found Conway at deep square leg. Game over.

    From that wicket, CSK tightened their grip on the match with Dhoni sharp with his bowling changes and field placings, never clearer than when Rashid, on 30 off 15 balls, slapped a delivery from Tushar Deshpande straight to Conway at deep point.

    The win put CSK into Sunday’s final – their tenth IPL final – while GT will now play the winner of today’s Eliminator, also in Chennai, between Lucknow Super Giants and Mumbai Indians.


    About the Author

    Written by Jamie Alter

    Jamie Alter is a sports journalist, author, commentator, anchor, actor, and YouTuber who has covered multiple cricket World Cups and other major sporting events while working with ESPNcricinfo, Cricbuzz, Network 18, the Zee Group and as Digital Sports Editor of the Times of India. Follow Jamie on Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.

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