Images from the Indian Premier League Qualifier 1 between Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings, in Dubai, on Sunday.
The ageless Mahendra Singh Dhoni produced a nostalgic little innings to take Chennai Super Kings' band of old men to their ninth Indian Premier League final after beating Delhi Capitals by four wickets in Qualifier 1, in Dubai, on Sunday.
The Delhi Capitals though have another shot at making it to the final when they meet the winner of the Eliminator between Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.
Needing 13 off the last over, Dhoni hit a square cut, got a bit of luck going his way and then pulled Delhi’s best bowler Tom Curran for the most-celebrated T20 boundary in recent times.
Before that, he dispatched Avesh Khan for a six over mid-wicket.
Curran and Avesh did not bowl badly, but it was one of those days when the cricketing Gods wanted the 40-year-old to finish it in style.
His 18 not out off six balls saw the former champions home with 173 for 6 in 19.4 overs.
It was all about turning the clock back for the former India captain who has struggled to finish in the last few years. But 'Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man' and Dhoni did it once more for his favourite cricket team.
After the victory, his emotional wife Sakshi was engaged in a bear hug with daughter Ziva, which tells what the know meant to the family.
It was just six balls and in that he missed a couple and got boundaries off the rest.
Robin Uthappa (63 off 44 balls) turned the clock back to his halcyon days, being the pace setter in the company of the irresistible Ruturaj Gaikwad (70 off 50 balls).
After Faf du Plessis was bowled by Kagiso Rabada, Uthappa decided to counter attack with such ferocity that caught the Delhi Capitals completely unawares.
Here was a player who has been out of circulation for quite some time, but with the in-form Gaikwad (70 off 50 balls) he added 110 runs as Delhi looked down and out after the first 10 overs.
Uthappa looked like his old self, something that made him a formidable T20 player back in the day; one who would win matches and IPL titles for Kolkata Knight Riders for fun.
There were drives, the reverse sweep, the Uthappa pull-shot and those shots while he also shimmied down the track to unsettled the line of the bowlers.
In all, he hit seven fours and two sixes before he was caught by a brilliant piece of fielding by Shreyas Iyer at the long-on boundary off Curran.
Iyer almost collided with Axar Patel but kept his balance to throw the ball in and catch it on second attempt.
He then took a catch to dismiss pinch-hitter Shardul Thakur while Ambati Rayudu was run-out due to a brilliant combination from Iyer and Rabada.
Gaikwad still played his shots despite a mini-collapse before a nice catch by Axar in deep off Avesh Khan made the equation 25 off 11 balls before Dhoni came in.
Earlier, Pant showed no signs of his self-confessed "nervousness" while firing an unbeaten 51 off 35 balls, which propelled Delhi Capitals to a competitive 172 for 5.
Pant received ideal support from Shimron Hetmyer (37 off 24 balls) as the duo added 83 runs for the fifth wicket with some breath-taking shots towards the end of the innings.
Pant hit three fours and two sixes as Delhi Capitals did not ultimately pay the price for playing a specialist batter short as they capitalised on a blazing start provided by opener Prithvi Shaw (60 off 34 balls), who took the opposition on with seven fours and three sixes.
Coming together at 80 for 4, Hetmyer and Pant initially just nudged around for a few singles and doubles before the flamboyant Caribbean pulled a short one from Moeen Ali for a six. He then bisected the off-side field off Dwayne Bravo for a boundary.
Pant, who was being kept quiet by the spinners, finally showed some spark with his trademark one-handed six off Shardul Thakur.
Once they put on a half-century partnership, Pant and Hetmyer started throwing their bats around at the back-end when the pacers were back in operation.
If Hetmyer thumped Josh Hazlewood (4-0-29-2) over his head, Pant whipped him towards deep mid-wicket to bring up the 150 for the team. He then hit Dwayne Bravo (1/31 in 3 overs) over his head for a second six.
But a lot of credit should go to Shaw, who played his best knock of the tournament.
He started with a pulled four and a six off Hazlewood, funnily both mis-timed shots. The first flew over slips and the next was top-edged behind the wicketkeeper with enough wood on the leather to go the distance.
However, Deepak Chahar's second over turned out to be a nightmare, as he was smashed for four boundaries -- first a streaky inside edge followed by two square cuts on either side of a flick.
While Shikhar Dhawan (7) and Shreyas Iyer (1) were dismissed by Josh Hazlewood within the Powerplay, Axar Patel’s promotion up the order did produce the desired success. Ten runs of 11 balls were all he could garner.
Shaw, however, continued with his 'see-the-ball, hit-the-ball' formula as he lofted Shardul Thakur for two sixes.
By the time he got to 50, off only 27 balls, he was piercing the off-side field regularly even as Axar perished failing to get the desired distance while trying to loft Moeen Ali.
The seasoned pair of Moeen Ali (1/27 in 4 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/23 in 3 overs) suddenly stifled the runs post the Powerplay with some measured bowling, which led to Shaw trying to loft the left-arm spinner inside-out. Faf du Plessis ran sideways to take a well-judged catch at deep extra cover boundary.
Pant and Hetmyer then took charge of Delhi’s batting to post who could be a safe total.