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Jadeja’s last ball heroics help CSK beat Gujarat Titans by 5 wickets, clinch record-equalling 5th IPL title (ld)

Ahmedabad, May 30 (IANS) Star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja smashed a six and four in the last two balls and along with vital contributions from other batters helped Chennai Super Kings beat Gujarat Titans by five wickets (via DLS method) in the rain-affected rescheduled final of the 2023 season to clinch a record-equalling fifth Indian Premier League title at the Narendra Modi Stadium, here on Monday night.

With this thrilling win, the MS Dhoni-led CSK has now equalled Mumbai Indians’ record for most (five) IPL titles. The 41-year-old Dhoni also became the joint-most successful captain (titles in 2010, 2011, 2018, 2021, 2023) in tournament history along with Rohit Sharma (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2022).

A sensational quick-fire fifty from Sai Sudharsan (96 off 41) along with Wriddhiman Saha’s vital half-century (54 off 39) powered Gujarat Titans to 214/4 in 20 overs.

Sudharsan looked flawless throughout his innings and played some breathtaking shots against an indisciplined bowling line-up. Apart from Sudharsan and Saha, the likes of Shubman Gill (39 off 20) and Hardik Pandya (21 off 12) also made vital contributions with the bat.

Chasing a mammoth target, CSK scored four runs in the first three balls of the innings with openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway at the crease before rain intervened and stopped the play. When the play resumed at 12:10 am after a long delay due to a wet outfield, the revised target for CSK was to chase 171 runs in 15 overs.

Both Conway and Gaikwad came with an attacking mindset and gave CSK a flying start. They played some beautiful shots and hammered Md Shami, Hardik Pandya and even Rashid Khan and took CSK to 52/0 in the revised four-over Power-play.

Gujarat Titans badly needed a wicket and left-armer spinner Noor Ahmed gave them the crucial breakthrough by removing Gaikwad (26 off 16). Not only Gaikwad, but the young Afghan spinner also got rid of the dangerous-looking Conway to put CSK on the back foot.

Two new batters — Impact Substitute Shivam Dube and Ajinkya Rahane — were at the crease and had a massive task ahead of them. As has been the case with Rahane this season, he once again showed his class and played some exquisite strokes to give the much-needed impetus to CSK innings.

Though Dube was struggling to get his timing right, Rahane was in fine touch and took CSK to 112 for 2 in 10 overs. Just when it looked like CSK were cruising towards the target, veteran Mohit Sharma bowled with a great change of pace to pile up the pressure of dots and singles to eventually lure Rahane (27 off 13 balls)

The see-saw battle continued as Dube finished off Rashid’s over with two successive sixes, leaving the four-time champions to chase 38 runs off the last 18 balls. Thereafter, Ambati Rayudu, who was playing his last IPL game, went on to hit 6, 4, 6 against Mohit to dwarf the target, but he got out of the next ball.

Dhoni walked in to bat with 22 needed off 14 and he had the chance to pull off the perfect ending but it wasn’t to be as the CSK skipper hit the ball straight to cover for a first-ball duck. Shami then bowled a fine penultimate over to leave Mohit to defend 13 in six balls as Dube and Jadeja were not able to find boundaries.

Mohit Sharma bowled excellent yorkers and gave just three runs in the first four balls. But Jadeja had other plans and he hit a six and four in the last two balls to give CSK a thrilling five-wicket win and record fifth title.

Earlier, asked to bat first, openers Gill and Saha were a bit cautious in their approach in the first two overs against Deepak Chahar and Tushar Deshpande and were helped by some sloppy fielding as well.

In the second over of the innings bowled by Deshpande, CSK skipper M.S. Dhoni placed Deepak Chahar at backward square and Gill hit the ball exactly there but the pacer couldn’t catch it, which changed the momentum in Gujarat’s favour.

From there on, both Chahar and Deshpande were taken on by Gill and Saha. Even spinner Maheesh Theeksana, who came to bowl the sixth over, was treated severely as Gujarat Titans raced to 62/0 at the end of the Power-play.

It was Ravindra Jadeja who gave CSK their first breakthrough by removing the dangerous Gill, courtesy of a typically quick and incredible glovework from Dhoni. Gill dragged his back leg out and with the speed at which Dhoni operates, there was just no time for the batter to even consider getting back into the crease.

After Gill’s wicket, things slowed down a bit for the Gujarat batters — Saha and Sai Sudharsan. The CSK spinners, Jadeja and Theeksana, were getting some assistance from the pitch as the Titans reached 86/1 at the halfway mark.

With 10 overs to go and nine wickets in hand, Sai and Saha decided to up the ante, scoring 23 in the next two overs off Jadeja and Matheesha Pathirana, giving some impetus to Titans’s innings. Saha, who came to open the innings and looked confident from the beginning, hit a Jadeja delivery between short third and backward point to score his fifty off 36 balls.

Things were going quite well for Gujarat and Dhoni brought Deepak Chahar into the attack. The pacer, who didn’t have a great night in the field, got Saha to top-edge a pull and Dhoni took a simple catch, leaving Gujarat at 131/2 after 14 overs.

Sai Sudharsan was a touch slow through the lull in the middle overs but then decided to tee off. The left-handed batter had skipper Hardik Pandya at the other end but he took the mantle of scoring runs at a high pace. Some poor bowling from Theekshana and Pathirana also helped his cause as Sudharsan raced away to fifty off 32 balls.

After reaching his half-century, Sudharsan became even more aggressive and clobbered Deshpande for 20 runs in an over, with the help of one six and three fours. Gujarat were 173/2 in 17 overs and looked all set to get a big total on the board.

The next over bowled by Pathirana gave Gujarat just nine runs but Tushar Deshpande was taken to the cleaners by Pandya and Sai Sudharsan for 18 runs as nothing was going well for CSK bowlers against a formidable Titans batting line-up.

Pathirana came to bowl the last over and he was welcomed by sixes in the first two balls. However, the Sri Lankan pacer had the last laugh as he trapped Sudharsan in front of the wicket, ending the left-hander’s batting carnage and denying him the chance to score his maiden IPL century.

In the next three balls, Pathirana gave just two runs and also removed Rashid Khan as Gujarat Titans finished with 214/4 on the board.

Brief scores:

Gujarat Titans 214/4 in 20 overs (Sai Sudharsan 96, Wriddhiman Saha 54; Matheesha Pathirana 2-44) Chennai Super Kings 171/5 in 15 overs (revised target) (Devon Conway 47, Ajinkya Rahane 27, Shivam Dube 32 not out, Ravindra Jadeja 15 not out; Mohit Sharma 3-36, Noor Ahmad 2-17) by five wickets via DLS method.