At 1:33 am on Tuesday, technically the third day that the IPL 2023 final had spilled into owing to persistent rain in Ahmedabad, Chennai Super Kings were crowned winners of the trophy for a record-equaling fifth time. The winning moment came after two rain delays on the reserve day for the IPL final, when Ravindra Jadeja flicked the final ball of the match from Mohit Sharma past short fine leg for four to clear the CSK dug out and send the majority of the estimated 75,000 fans still in the Narendra Modi Stadium at that hour into raptures.
Thus, was capped one of the most memorable IPL finals in which CSK were set a DLS-revised target of 171 in 15 overs to beat defending champions Gujarat Titans. Their chase got off to a tremendous start thanks to the in-form openers Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad who smacked 74 in 39 deliveries, but two double-strikes at different stages threatened to deny CSK their fifth title.
The first was in the seventh over when Noor Ahmad took out Gaikwad for 26 off 16 deliveries and Conway for 47 off 25. The second came deep in the innings, when Mohit Sharma dismissed Ambati Rayudu – whose cameo 19 off eight balls in his last IPL appearance helped shift the momentum back CSK’s way – and MS Dhoni off successive balls in the 13th over.
It came down to CSK needing off the 15th and final over, and after conceding just four from the first four balls with some terrific Yorker-length deliveries, Mohit was struck for six and four as Jadeja pulled off a stunning heist. Credit is due to CSK’s muscular middle-order mainstay Shivam Dube as well, who finished 32 not out off 21 balls and whose two sixes on the night took his tally to 35 for the season, one short of Faf du Plessis’s record.
Such a sensational win, which came in a final that had begun two on Sunday, had been unlikely to be envisioned after GT posted 214 for 4 in their 20 overs. An unlikely hero emerged for the home team, and one who set up the highest total of any IPL final. Walking into bat for the start of the eighth over after a moment of brilliance from Dhoni ended Shubman Gill’s fun on 39, Sai Sudarshan put firmly in the background his scratchy innings of 43 in Qualifier 2 – where he had to be retired out – with a very fine 96 off 47 deliveries.
When GT sped away to 62 for no loss after the Powerplay block, it seemed as if they were on course for 220 or more. Gill had been dropped on 3 by Deepak Chahar at a very well-placed backward square leg, and the same bowler had put down a tougher return catch when Wriddhiman Saha was on 20. After that reprieve, Gill had pounded his way to 36 from 17 by the end of the Powerplay with two sequences of fours in three successive deliveries and the crowd was chanting his name.
Then Dhoni turned to Jadeja for the seventh over – traditionally the easiest over to bowl in T20s – and off the seventh ball the CSK captain procured the biggest wicket of the match. A fast and flat delivery beat Gill’s forward push as he lost balance, and in the quickest of time, Dhoni had him stumped. It was a dismissal that perhaps only the Jadeja-Dhoni combo could have pulled off. This ended Gill’s barnstorming IPL season at 890 runs.
Saha made a solid 54 before he mistimed a pull off Chahar and at the start of the 14th ove the score was 131/2 with Sudarshan 36 off 25 balls and Hardik Pandya new to the crease. Aware that it would be unfair on his captain to immediately start upping the run rate, Sudarshan started to swing his bat and the result was two sixes off Mahesh Theekshana. His fifty needed 33 balls, a slash off Matheesha Pathirana beating backward point and evading third man for four, and then three fours and a six came off the 17th over bowled by Tushar Deshpande.
With Pandya not striking the ball fluently, Sudarshan was left with no option but to aim for the boundaries. The final over of the innings began with successive sixes off Pathirana to get the total to 214 but a hundred in an IPL final was not to be, unfortunately, for a curling yorker from around the stumps cut him off on 96.
On most days, such an innings would have set up an IPL trophy. But it was CSK’s day, owing to an incredible DLS chase.