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Jadeja’s unabashed hitting rewarded CSK with fifth IPL title

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In IPL Cricket, as expected by all, Chennai Super Kings under the leadership of Dhoni showed their best talent and won the IPL-2023 title by winning over the strong Gujarat Titans. This is the fifth title for the team. With this, the IPL 2023 session ended and the celebrations started in Chennai.

Chennai Super Kings became IPL champions for the fifth time in a game befitting a title clash. With 10 needed off the last two deliveries, Ravindra Jadeja smacked a six down the ground and a four to fine leg off Mohit Sharma to seal one of the most dramatic finales in the history the tournament.

In a rain-curtailed chase, the game swung one way and another as CSK were powered by a series of cameos before they seemingly wobbled at the climax with Mohit Sharma doing the star turn, picking up two wickets and stitching together 13 consecutive balls without a boundary along with Mohammed Shami.

It included the first four of the final over where 13 were needed. Switching to a pace-up full length tactic, Mohit found success initially but Jadeja managed to stay deep in the crease to first loft a six down the ground, and then wait for a low full toss to swing it to the fine leg fence triggering manic celebrations in front of a 75000 crowd that had stayed back despite the rain delays.

With a revised target of 171 in 15 overs, the tone was first set by the opening duo of Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad. The former played the role of an aggressor initially hitting 47 in a 74-run opening stand. The duo fell in quick succession with Afghanistan’s young left-arm spinner Noor Ahmed triggering a turnaround with a double blow in a spell of 2-17.

However, CSK kept up the hitting tempo right through with Ajinkya Rahane stepping up with a 13-ball 27 before Ambati Rayudu smacked an 8-ball 19 in his final IPL innings. All along Shivam Dube had found it difficult to get his strike-rate up, but off Rashid Khan’s last two deliveries he found his hitting range and struck two important sixes before the finale capped off a sweet finish for CSK despite MS Dhoni’s golden duck. The approach was partly dictated by the situation they found themselves in after an inordinate rain delay pushed them to a corner from where they could go only one way.

Yes, and one that dragged the game nearly two hours into a third calendar day. A brief shower caused considerable seepage on a square which stopped the game for over two hours, after Gujarat Titans led by Sai Sudharsan, had put on a powerful batting performance.

That Gujarat Titans ended up with the highest ever score in an IPL final was thanks to a scintillating 96 off 47 from Sai Sudharsan. Gujarat Titans got it right by sending a left-hander in early, and not allowing CSK’s bowlers to settle in. And the 21-year-old Tamil Nadu batter made sure that he delivered what was asked of him.

His innings started slowly for he had only 10 off his first 12 balls. But his strik-rate ascendancy conincided with CSK’s best laid death bowling plans. Sudharsan began by picking up two boundaries off their specialist Matheesha Pathirana in his first two overs, sandwiched by two sixes off Theekshana. But the real punishment was dealt to Tushar Deshpande who went for 6, 4, 4, 4, peppering a packed offside field. He would go on to hit two more sixes off Pathirana in the final over before being trapped LBW, but having finished the job that was expected from the in-form Shubman Gill.

Typically with a lot of promise, for Gujarat had racked up the highest powerplay score in an IPL final thanks in no small measure to his 20-ball 39. He hit seven boundaries in his cameo, after being an early beneficiary of a dropped catch at backward square leg with Deepak Chahar fumbling a trap. The lapses in the field also allowed Gill to take the attack to CSK’s lead spinner Theekshana by hitting him for three consecutive boundaries when he came inside the powerplay. But just as he was beginning to tee off, Gill’s end was brought about by some sharp glovework from MS Dhoni playing his 250th IPL game, as Jadeja beat him and dragged him out with a big turner. For GT, Gill’s early exit did not hurt them as it ought to because others chipped in.

Again a beneficiary of fielding lapses and surviving a fluffed run out chance and a dropped catch, Saha made sure that CSK paid for it. Getting his second fifty of the season and making full use of the fielding restrictions inside the powerplay, he played the role of an enforcer to perfection in that period, taking down Deepak Chahar with 6, 4 ,4 in an over. His half-century played the perfect bridge between Gill’s early onslaught and later Sai’s as Gujarat racked up 214, which eventually proved insufficient.

Scores: Gujarat Titans 214/4 in 20 overs (Sai Sudharsan 96, Wriddhiman Saha 54) lost to Chennai Super Kings 171/5 in 20 overs (Devon Conway 47, Shivam Dube 32*) by 5 wickets (DLS method).

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