Chennai Super Kings achieved a remarkable feat by reaching their 10th IPL final with a fantastic 15-run victory over the Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 1. In the pursuit of a target of 173 runs, Gujarat's batting lineup crumbled, and it was the first time they were completely dismissed in an IPL match. This victory was particularly special for CSK as it marked their first win in four matches against Hardik Pandya's team, and it couldn't have happened at a more crucial moment.
The beginning was calm and peaceful, with no casualties
With Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan, who were the top wicket-takers of the tournament, bowling only half the overs in this phase, it made sense for CSK (Chennai Super Kings) to start cautiously. However, the most exciting moment of this phase came when Ruturaj Gaikward was dismissed by Nalkande, but it turned out to be a no-ball. Taking advantage of the free-hit, Gaikwad hit a six and followed it up with a boundary, providing much-needed momentum to CSK's innings. The openers played carefully against Shami, Rashid, and Noor Ahmad, managing to maintain a run-rate of over 8 by the end of the powerplay. This laid a solid foundation for them. However, they needed to pick up the pace against the skilled chasers of the IPL (Indian Premier League).
The anticipated increase that never happened
When the game starts smoothly, we expect the batsmen to settle in and increase the intensity. However, the Gujarat Titans, a team that has two leading bowlers in their ranks, along with a promising player trained by Rashid Khan, managed to create pressure even on the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team after twelve overs. As the bowlers who were considered easier to target started bowling tightly, the situation became challenging.
Ruturaj Gaikwad was the first batsman to be dismissed unexpectedly by Mohit Sharma, breaking the flow of the game. Shivam Dube, attempting a clumsy shot, was knocked over by Noor, and then Ajinkya Rahane's brief contribution also came to an end. It was crucial for Finn Allen to step up and make an impact, but he too couldn't handle the mounting pressure, scoring 40 runs off 33 balls. CSK's initially stable performance seemed to be falling apart. Moreover, when you're facing a target of around 170 against the IPL's masters of successful chases, it could potentially lead to a disastrous outcome.
CSK also had some reasons to feel relieved
The wickets kept falling consistently on a pitch that seemed to be offering good support to the bowlers. First, Rayudu hit a huge six off Rashid's delivery but was then dismissed shortly after. Dhoni, a crowd favorite, unfortunately, only managed to score 1 run, quieting the enthusiastic Chennai spectators. However, in the last 4 overs, Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja played some powerful shots despite the slow pitch and a sluggish outfield that didn't allow for easy scoring. They managed to add 41 runs to the total, resulting in a competitive score of 172 for CSK. Considering Gujarat's past performance while chasing, it might have seemed like a straightforward task for them, right?
Chasemasters got off to a bit of a rough start
The ball was moving quite slowly after hitting the surface, and during the first part of the match, the conditions were the most favorable. Saha had a hard time scoring and eventually got out to Deepak Chahar. Hardik Pandya, on the other hand, got tricked by a delivery from Theekshana, which unexpectedly stopped, causing him to hit the ball straight to Jadeja at point. As a result, the team at the top of the rankings lost two wickets during the powerplay and their run rate was less than 7 runs per over.
The procession begins
Dasun Shanaka seemed poised to bring the Titans back into the game with a couple of powerful hits for six runs off Theekshana. However, his momentum was short-lived as he got out while attempting a reverse-sweep off Jadeja. This brought Miller to the crease, joining Gill. The team relied heavily on this partnership to score the majority of runs, but unfortunately, it didn't work out as planned. Miller also got dismissed soon after, falling victim to Jadeja's bowling. And then, the game took a dramatic turn. It was a pivotal moment that generated an electric atmosphere similar to when MS Dhoni walked out to bat at the Chepauk stadium. Deepak Chahar managed to dismiss Shubman Gill, shifting the balance of the game. One by one, the opposition's threats were neutralised, including Rahul Tewatia in Theekshana's final over, leaving the GT team at a score of 98-6.
The final blow that seals the deal
Gujarat was in a precarious situation, with their chances hanging by a thread, even after Vijay Shankar got out. The match took a decisive turn when Rashid Khan dismantled Tushar Deshpande's bowling, and the Gujarat bowlers seemed to be struggling, bowling wides possibly due to the dew on the field. However, an impressive display of strategy led to Rashid Khan mishitting a wide yorker straight to the fielder at deep backward point, effectively sealing Gujarat's fate. In the end, Noor Ahmad and Mohammed Shami couldn't overcome the challenge, and CSK comfortably secured victory.
What will be next?
We're quickly running out of things to talk about here. The Chennai Super Kings have become the first team to secure a spot in the final of the IPL 2023. Next, the Gujarat Titans will compete in Qualifier 2 on Friday, May 26, in Ahmedabad. Their opponents will be either the Mumbai Indians or the Lucknow Super Giants, depending on who wins the Eliminator match scheduled for Wednesday, May 24. In the final, Chennai could potentially face any of these three teams, including the Gujarat Titans once again, and the final match might take place in Ahmedabad.
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