Ruturaj Gaikwad and Robin Uthappa’s century stand laid the base for CSK, rendering fifties from Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant in vain
Chennai Super Kings 173 for 6 (Gaikwad 70, Uthappa 63*, T Curran 3-29) beat Delhi Capitals 172 for 5 (Shaw 60, Pant 51*, Hazlewood 2-29) by four wickets
Ruturaj Gaikwad and Robin Uthappa put on 110 for the second wicket and MS Dhoni rolled back the clock with a finishing act as Chennai Super Kings qualified for their ninth IPL final, beating league-stage toppers Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 1.
After the second-wicket stand had laid the platform for Super Kings in a chase of 173, the middle order stuttered before Dhoni came in with Super Kings needing 23 off 11. He played his first ball with them needing 19 off 9, and missed it. The next ball from Avesh Khan was clobbered over the midwicket boundary, and Dhoni then had strike against Tom Curran with 13 to get off 5.
Curran was Capitals’ most successful bowler of the night at that point, but boundaries from Dhoni – even if one was an inside edge – off the next two balls put the pressure squarely on him; that resulted in a wide, and eventually the half-tracker slower ball that Dhoni swung to the leg-side boundary to seal the win with two balls to spare.
WATCH – Dhoni rolls back the years to take CSK home in last over
Uthappa brings out the classics, Gaikwad takes it deep
Uthappa’s promotion to No. 3, the position from which he has scored many IPL runs, turned out to be a crucial decision for Super Kings. He walked in during the first over, with nearly the entire powerplay at his disposal, and made the best of his favourite phase of the innings. It was a typical Uthappa knock, studded with elegant drives on the rise, deflections behind the wicket, and dominant punches over the infield. With Gaikwad going about it in his usual languid manner to begin, Uthappa made sure Super Kings scored at a healthy rate. Five of his seven boundaries and two of his three sixes came in the powerplay, with two of each coming in a 20-run Avesh Khan over to end the powerplay.
Rishabh Pant turned to R Ashwin in the middle overs and for a brief period, he played a part as the Capitals stopped the flow of the second-wicket partnership; at least twice from Ashwin, that meant a literal stop, when he pulled out of his delivery stride to Gaikwad’s annoyance. But, in his second over, Uthappa reverse swept Ashwin and then hit him over his head next ball to put an end to his night.
Gaikwad then began reaping the rewards of his method: his acceleration came, as it often does, in the second half of the innings. His 50-ball 70, with typically well-placed boundaries, and a lot of smart running, took Super Kings all the way into the 19th over even as their middle-order shuffles – Shardul Thakur at four, Ambati Rayudu ahead of Moeen Ali at five – had begun failing.
Full report to follow…
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo