A classic thriller of a cricket match at the Dubai International Stadium ended the with most archetypal finishes in cricket history. CSK are through to the final for the 9th time in the 12 seasons they have played, that too in the most enigmatic style – MS Dhoni with another clinical finish, just like old times. An organized chase with apparent setbacks and counter moves resulted in a gripping contest and a match worthy of the first qualifier. Delhi Capitals following the defeat has to the winner of eliminator played between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Story of the match
On a chasing pitch, it was predicted that the winner of the toss would elect to chase and MS Dhoni did just the same on the big match. DC had the pressure to build a strong target as CSK’s batting lineup goes as deep as number 10. The mission was taken up by Prithvi Shaw, Rishabh Pant, and Shimron Hetmyer. While one of the ends was falling into pieces before CSK’s terrifying bowling performance, Prithvi Shaw anchored the other end with his 60 from 34. At a point, DC seemed to stop before the 150 mark. Captain Rishabh Pant and Hetmyer stitched up an 83-run partnership and raised the total to 172. On such a pitch, the score was just about par.
CSK had their prolific opener back at the pavilion in the very first over of the innings. A lethal in swinger by Anrich Nortje bowled Du Plessis over. At No.3, Robin Uthappa walked in replacing the veteran Suresh Raina in the playing XI and displacing Ambati Rayudu or Moeen Ali in the batting order. What followed was some of the vintage version of Robin Uthappa. Free-flowing shots and a couple of huge sixes from Robbie set the tone of the match. On the other side, Ruturaj Gaikwad continued his productive campaign with yet another half-century. When Uthappa got out on 63, CSK was 113 and on a blink of an eye, the scorecard showed 119/4.
It was such a rare occasion where the credit for the turnaround was given not to a bowler, but for Shreyas Iyer for his excellent fielding effort. A brilliant catch followed by the run out of Ambati Rayudu shifted the game on DC’s angle. But Ruturaj Gaikwad was robust in the middle all through the chaos and led his innings till the death overs. In the last two overs, CSK needed 24 off 12, and Gaikwad got dismissed by Avesh Khan in the first ball of the 19th over. The crowd, commentators, and DC players were expecting Ravindra Jadeja to join Moeen Ali in the crease. But came in the rusty MS Dhoni who was yet to play some consistent shots this season. It was a huge decision by himself to enter the scene before the in-form Jadeja and he made sure that the decision paid off.
Dhoni hit 18 runs from 6 balls with 3 fours and a six. Not a new thing for CSK fans but a crucial moment for Dhoni had a tough season and an even important comeback for CSK after a disastrous 2020 tournament.
The show of Shaw
Prithvi Shaw was absolutely on top his game. He saved DC from sinking when the whole top order went through a domino effect.
A captain’s knock
Rishabh Pant playing his first-ever playoff match as a captain showed the world that he can handle the pressure of being a leader. He just became the most reliable DC batsman right now.
Old is gold
Robin Uthappa did not have the best of runs in the past couple of seasons. To perform in such a big match replacing a franchise legend, it takes a different class. The 35-year-old proved that he is still capable of performing at the highest level.
Ruturaj Gaikwad is Mr. Consistent
With that match-winning half century, Gaikwad has now 7 Man of the match awards from 21 matches. It’s even more astonishing if you know that he has 807 runs from those 21 matches averaging above 47.
Dhoni is not finished
Well, this is what MS Dhoni is known for. Putting matches and criticisms to end. It was a gamble to promote himself ahead of Jadeja but it was reminiscing of the 2011 World Cup final where he did the same to play one of the iconic knocks by an Indian. With one more match to go, MS Dhoni has all the confidence in the world to walk in and have a go.
Hits and Flops
- Prithvi Shaw – A good innings under pressure by the young opener but got out a little early which took away DC’s scope of setting a huge target.
- Rishabh Pant – Another innings to remind that he is still India’s prime choice for a wicket-keeper batsman and an asset in the middle overs.
- Josh Hazlewood – It wasn’t quite a game for the bowlers but Josh played the pivotal role wiping out the top order and delivered some very good balls at the death.
- Robin Uthappa – A vintage performance by Robbie. An innings of pure class and courage.
- Ruturaj Gaikwad – 4th half century of the season and he pretty much sealed his name as the emerging player of the year.
- MS Dhoni – The skipper has finally found some rhythm and refined his finishing skills.
- Shikhar Dhawan – Bad day at the office for Dhawan as he couldn’t make any impact to the game.
- Shardul Thakur – A deviant performance from Thakur giving away 36 runs from 3 overs without bagging any. Failed as a pinch hitter as well.
- Avesh Khan – 47 runs conceded from 4 overs. Avesh Khan bowled a few good balls but all the rest went for plenty.
Tactical punts and fails
- Axar Patel was promoted up the order but 10 runs from 11 balls was definitely not the intended result.
- Shardul Thakur came in at four as a pinch hitter. His only hit was caught by Iyer. But it didn’t affect the game though.
- MS Dhoni coming in before Jadeja was the gamble of the match and perhaps, of the season.
- Bringing Avesh Khan who had already conceded 36 from 3 overs to bowl the 19th over backfired for DC. Kagiso Rabada was an option.