Alagappan Muthu, 23 May 2023, with this title “CSK squeeze the Titans to enter their tenth IPL final”
Chennai Super Kings 172 for 7 (Gaikwad 60, Conway 40, Shami 2-28) beat Gujarat Titans (Gill 42, Jadeja 2-18) by 15 runs
MS Dhoni has led Chennai Super Kings to their tenth IPL final. He’s had the whole country wrapped around his fingertips without even trying, and nights like these are the reason why. Even the umpires couldn’t win against him.
He met Gujarat Titans on a pitch that he likes – the kind that used to greet international teams during his reign as India captain – and turned their comfort zone into anything but. A team that likes batting second lost for only the fourth time in 18 chases.
Deepak Chahar had Shubman Gill caught on the long-leg boundary for 42• Getty Images
It really did feel like destiny was at play here. CSK’s batters mis-hit a lot but they still managed 172. Their quicks then sprayed it around but those short balls down leg and wide full tosses actually got wickets. The spinners, however, were in their element with Ravindra Jadeja and Maheesh Theekshana picking up four wickets for 46 runs.
Titans aren’t done, of course. They were the dominant team in the league stage, which earned them a second shot at a place in the final. They’ll have to make the most of that now against either Mumbai Indians or Lucknow Super Giants in Ahmedabad.
There are times when it feels like Dhoni’s players become extensions of his will and there is one who knows that feeling more than most. To be fair, that implication has hurt Jadeja as much as it has helped him.
The left-arm spinner was always going to be crucial in conditions where the new ball was stopping on the pitch and the old one was keeping low. By the time he got it in his hands, it began to take appreciable amounts of turn as well.
His second wicket – that of David Miller – was magic. High pace. From around the wicket. Pitching on middle stump. But the angle made the batter think he had the room to whip it away. A split second later his stumps were in disarray.
This was Jadeja’s eighth wicket of a left-hander, doubling his previous best in an IPL season.
Theekshana shows why
There was always a question about him in the press conferences. Why is he in the side? Why didn’t they play Mitchell Santner? What is the point of a spinner who couldn’t take wickets in Chennai? Well this is it.
Theekshana got rid of Hardik Pandya. At the time, it felt like the Titans captain was preparing to take the bowler on. It was his second big move, after coming out at No. 3 and hitting his first ball for four. The logic was if he could defang one of CSK’s go-to men in conditions that were perfect for him that’ll send a shockwave right through the team. It was a calculated risk. It didn’t come off. The battle lasted three balls.
Towards the end of the game, with Dhoni working to push up the required rate, he turned to Theekshana again and he went straight through Rahul Tewatia. It was part of a period in which Titans lost four wickets for 26 runs in 24 balls.
Recovering from 98 for 6 was not possible, even with heroics from Rashid Khan.
Gill vs Conway
At the end of CSK’s powerplay, Devon Conway was 14 off 11 with a control percentage of 64. Those stats combine to suggest he was trying a lot of things and very few of them were coming off. Coming down the track. Looking for those scoops. Anything. Everything. But nothing worked. He was stuck and for as long as he was so were the Super Kings. They hit no boundaries for 29 balls between the 10th and the 15th overs. Just a little after that, Conway’s control percentage dipped to 50. He was playing a false shot once every two balls.
Meanwhile, Shubman Gill had unlocked batting. Even here, he played a shot that barely made sense. It was a flick, but he hit it in front of short midwicket, which meant he had to limit the amount of wrist he put into it. He had to limit the one thing that gives the shot its power and it still went screaming away to the boundary.
Dhoni knew he could not let Gill bat till the end. So he called on Matheesha Pathirana a little earlier than he usually does. And the young slinga got a bit of stage fright. His first over in his first IPL playoff match contained 10 balls, including four wides.
Gill survived so Dhoni went to plan B. If he couldn’t be prised out, maybe he could be tempted. Deepak Chahar came on. And with the first ball of the 14th over – short, slow and so damn juicy – he had Titans’ biggest hope caught on the long-leg boundary. Gill walked away with a control percentage in the 90s. Conway walked away with the win.
Dhoni vs the umpires
With the set batter gone, Dhoni reigned supreme. He had three overs of Pathirana left to combat Titans’ finishers. And he would use them all even if it meant inviting an over-rate penalty. That’s 16, 18 and 20. Only Pathirana had left the field for a while. So he couldn’t bowl the 16th until he had been on the pitch for the same time he had been off. So Dhoni went to the umpires and just had a little chat, seemingly letting the clock tick on down until he could unleash his death bowler.
This is what Dhoni does. He defends totals. It’s part of his mystique. Hardik actually said it best: “That’s the beauty about him. With his mind and the kind of way he uses his bowlers, he will make sure you feel like he is adding 10 runs extra to the score.”
That Super Kings got to 172 was down to Ruturaj Gaikwad and his 14th IPL half-century. He too had to struggle but whereas other batters let the pressure get to them, he keeps his composure. For example, in the fifth over, Rashid had tied him down by bowling into the wicket and at the stumps. Sensing that the batter would be looking for a release shot now, the legspinner dangled one outside off. Gaikwad went after it, as he was supposed to, but he hit it inside out over cover where there were no fielders. That is a high-quality shot in a high-pressure situation against a high-class bowler. It represented both Gaikwad’s skill and his clear-headedness at the crease. CSK were very lucky he was reprieved on 2 off 6 by a no-ball.
**** **** ****
Alagappan Muthu, 24 May 2023, ….with this title “Mumbai in Qualifier 2 after Madhwal knocks LSG out with incredible 5 for 5”
Mumbai did the simple things right to get to within two wins of a sixth title, while LSG lost the Eliminator for the second season running.
So, look out, Ahmedabad. Mumbai Indians are coming. The five-time champions put on a clinic to rout Lucknow Super Giants on Wednesday night and march into Qualifier 2. They are now two wins away from lifting a trophy they might soon trademark.
Akash Madhwal was the star of the show, picking up the joint-best figures by an Indian in IPL history – 5 for 5 in 3.3 overs. He might have taken more but Super Giants kept running themselves out in ridiculous ways. One was the result of a collision, it ended their best batter’s stay at the crease, Marcus Stoinis gone for 40 off 27. Another had both players at the same end.
Super Giants fell from 74 for 3 to 101 all out in a chase of 183.
Mumbai’s boundary bash
Mumbai do the little things right. They saw the opposition opening the bowling with spin and exploited the fact that only two men are allowed outside the 30-yard circle. Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan hit four fours in the first three overs – all just placed into gaps behind point and past fine leg because they knew that would be enough. These were the conditions that were supposed to stop the biggest hitters in the IPL. But they didn’t. Mumbai cruised to 98 for 2, the third-highest 10-over score in Chennai this year. They hit 15 boundaries in this period.
Cameron Green and Suryakumar Yadav were not just clearing the boundary, they were spraying the second tier. This season, a few teams have experimented with three openers in their line-up. They come into play when there’s an early wicket. They stay in the hut when there isn’t. Mumbai are one of these teams and it helped them keep a very healthy tempo. They were on course to clear 200.
That’s when Naveen-ul-Haq came on and did the simple thing right. At Chepauk, everybody needs to take pace off. Including the fast bowlers. After getting bashed for a first-ball six in the 11th over, he slipped in a legcutter to Suryakumar and had him caught on the straight boundary, and two balls later, an offcutter gripped in the pitch and bowled Green through the gate.
Naveen, the Afghanistan quick, celebrated each of his four wickets by putting his fingers in ears, perhaps a response to the hate he’s received on social media for his part in the blow-up with Virat Kohli earlier in the tournament.
Manjrekar: ‘Brilliant move to have Wadhera come in as Impact sub’
The impact of the Impact Sub
Mumbai had gone in a batter light in their bat-first XI. The logic was that if they needed the guy, they would sub him in for someone who was already dismissed.
Which is exactly what happened. Nehal Wadhera walked in as Suryakumar’s substitute to face the last 21 balls of the innings.
If they hadn’t needed him, they might have brought in an extra spinner to help defend whatever total they got. Mumbai kept both options open. It’s a fun way to use the Impact Sub. It’s not formulaic.
Wadhera played a massive role. He came in at a time when Mumbai had managed only 30 runs in the previous 4.2 overs. And he smashed 23 off 12, including two fours and a six in the final over.
Madhwal stands tall
Madhwal went to Mumbai for INR 20 lakh. Money extremely well spent.
He wasn’t part of Plan A. An entire month had gone by before he played his first game, and there he went for 37 runs in three overs. Two of them were at the death.
Madhwal has bowled 129 balls this season. Fifty-one of them have been in overs 17 to 20. A rookie has been bowling 40% of his deliveries in the hardest phase of a T20 game while maintaining an economy rate of 7.5. Only one fast bowler has done better (min 18 deliveries) and he belonged to the opposition – Mohsin Khan.
Madhwal’s biggest impact in this game, though, came in the middle overs when he picked up two wickets in two balls, including an absolute peach from around the wicket, angling into the left-handed Nicholas Pooran and nipping away off the pitch to have him caught behind.
Seventeen dots in 21 balls and five wickets for five runs. Nobody had done this much damage in the entire history of IPL playoff matches. Most teams wouldn’t be able to recover from losing bowlers of the class of Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer.
Mumbai aren’t most teams.
ADDENDUM: A REVIEW by Brian Thomas of Sri Lanka in Facebok, 24 may 2023
I guess those who are following the IPL in Sri Lanka will be more supportive of Chennai Kings , because two of our boys are their main strike bowlers. Matheesha and Mahesh have helped the boys in yellow to get to the finals , now I have conveyed to all my friends the good News.
Now the bad news is: foolishly RCB, led by Faf Duplesis, have given a lifeline to Mumbai Indians, who have the strongest batting line up, to creap into the play offs , whilst LSG, led by Kunal Pandya, played schoolboy cricket in the eliminator game and have given the Rohit Sharma led MRI team a peep into the finals this Sunday provided they cross the final hurdle against defending champions Gujrat Titans. This game is virtually a semi final to be played tomorrow. What are the dumb mistakes Kunal made in yesterday’s game?.
1. To drop Quinton De Koch, and play Carl Mayers.
2. To give spinners 4 overs on the trott during the power play, against quality batters.
3. To bat himself at number 3.
4. Asking his batters to open shoulders too early against Kuldeep Yadev [error–it was Piyesh Chawla] a World class left arm orthodox spinner , and played into the hands of Rohit Sharma, who had fielders spread on the on-side the longer boundary.
Last but not the least, banking on Pooran the West Indian to deliver, since everybody knows, though Pooran is a blow hot blow cold type of batter. OK good bye LSG , hope u get a better outfit in the next edition.