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Hardik Has A Lot To Learn From Thala

May 24, 2023 06:37 IST
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IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni is congratulated by Hardik Pandya after the match. Photographs: BCCI

After leading Gujarat Titans to the IPL title in their debut season last year, Hardik Pandya's captaincy evoked a lot of comparisons to his mentor and close friend Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

But in the end, Dhoni showed that Hardik still has a lot to learn when it comes to leadership skills as Chennai Super Kings outwitted Gujarat Titans by 15 runs in the first Qualifier to book a place in their 10th IPL final.

Dew was expected to play a part while Gujarat Titans' impressive record in run chases -- 14 wins in 17 run chases -- might have played a part in Hardik's decision to bowl. But given how the pitch played during the course of the match, especially in the second half, would have made Titans skipper rue his decision.

IMAGE: Ruturaj Gaikwad made the most of an early reprieve with a crucial half-century.

The big turning point of CSK's innings came when Ruturaj Gaikwad was caught off a no-ball with pacer Darshan Nalkande, playing his first match of the season, overstepping. Gaikwad hit the resultant free hit for a six and thereafter the CSK innings turned on its head after a slow start.

With Devon Conway struggling to get going, Gaikwad kept the scoreboard moving along with regular boundaries as he recovered from a slow start to race to his fifty from just 36 balls.

He went on to stroke 60 from 44 balls, putting on 87 runs for the opening wicket with Conway, to lay the foundation for CSK.

The good start afforded CSK the luxury to go their shots in the second half of their innings. While Shivam Dube perished for 1 in his quest to find the boundaries, Ajinkya Rahane (17), Ambati Raydu (17), Ravindra Jadeja (22 from 16 balls) and Moeen Ali (9 not out from 4 balls) ensured CSK scored quickly towards the end, as 35 came from the last three overs.

IMAGE: Shubman Gill celebrates taking the catch to dismiss Ruturaj Gaikwad off the no-ball bowled by Darshan Nalkande.

The ball was not coming on to bat during Titans' run chase and getting boundaries proved a difficult task in the Powerplay. Titans lost a couple of early wickets to be reduced to 41/2 in six overs, hitting just five fours and a six.

With dew not playing a part, the pitch offered a lot of assistance to the spinners and Dhoni made the most by bowling Jadeja and Maheesh Theekshana in tandem.

The spin twins helped CSK take a firm grip of the contest in the middle overs as they combined bowled six overs, picking up two wickets for 35 runs.

With the wicket offering a lot of turn, Jadeja was in the thick of things as he dismissed Dasun Shanaka (17) and David Miller (4) to finish with excellent figures of 2/18 in four overs, which included 12 dot balls.

He did an excellent in frustrating the in-form Shubman Gill, who managed just 13 off 12 balls against him, including five dot balls.

IMAGE: Ravindra Jadeja celebrates with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Moeen Ali after taking David Miller's wicket.

Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, Titans pinned their hopes on run-machine Gill to produce another match-winning knock. But his dismissal to Deepak Chahar in the 14th over all but sealed the deal in CSK's favour.

Rashid Khan hammered a quickfire 30 from 16 balls, but the target proved beyond Titans' reach.

While Gaikwad walked away with the man of the match for his fifty and a superb catch to dismiss Vijay Shankar at a crucial stage, Jadeja's contribution was rightly acknowledged by Dhoni.

'If Jadeja gets the conditions that help him he is very difficult to hit. I feeling his bowling at that point of time really changed the game and not to forget his partnership with Moeen. On a slow wicket, every run is important,' Dhoni said acknowledging Jadeja's contribution in the win.

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IPL 2023

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