Sai Sudharsan plays a shot during the IPL final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday. AP
A sensational quickfire fifty from Sai Sudharsan (96 off 41) along with Wriddhiman Saha's vital half-century (54 off 39) powered Gujarat Titans to 214/4 against Chennai Super Kings in the rescheduled final of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 at the Narendra Modi Stadium, on Monday.
Sudharsan looked flawless throughout his innings and played some breathtaking shots against an undisciplined bowling line-up. Apart from Sudharsan and Saha, the likes of Shubman Gill (39 off 20) and Hardik Pandya (21 off 12) also made vital contributions with the bat.
Asked to bat first, openers Gill and Saha were a bit cautious in their approach in the first two overs against Deepak Chahar and Tushar Deshpande and were helped by some sloppy fielding as well.
In the second over of the innings bowled by Deshpande, CSK skipper M.S. Dhoni placed Deepak Chahar at backward square and Gill hit the ball exactly there but the pacer couldn't catch it, which changed the momentum in Gujarat's favour.
From there on, both Chahar and Deshpande were taken on by Gill and Saha. Even spinner Maheesh Theeksana, who came to bowl the sixth over, was also treated severely as Gujarat Titans raced to 62/0 at the end of the Power-play.
Fans of Mahendra Singh Dhoni cheer before the start of the final match in Ahmedabad. AFP
It was Ravindra Jadeja who gave CSK their first breakthrough by removing the dangerous Gill, courtesy of a typically quick and incredible glovework from Dhoni. Gill dragged his back leg out and with the speed at which Dhoni operates, there was just no time for the batter to even consider getting back into the crease.
After Gill's wicket, things slowed down a bit for the Gujarat batters -- Saha and Sai Sudharsan. The CSK spinners, Jadeja and Theeksana, were getting some assistance from the pitch as the Titans reached 86/1 at the halfway mark.
With 10 overs to go and nine wickets in hand, Sai and Saha decided to up the ante, scoring 23 in the next two overs off Jadeja and Matheesha Pathirana, giving some impetus to Titans's innings. Saha, who came to open the innings and looked confident from the beginning, hit a Jadeja delivery between short third and backward point to score his fifty off 36 balls.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (R) and Hardik Pandya laugh during the toss. AFP
Things were going quite well for Gujarat and Dhoni brought Deepak Chahar into the attack. The pacer, who didn't have a great night in the field, got Saha to top-edge a pull and Dhoni took a simple catch, leaving Gujarat at 131-2 after 14 overs.
Sai Sudharsan was a touch slow through the lull in the middle overs but then decided to tee off. The left-handed batter had skipper Hardik Pandya at the other end but he took the mantle of scoring runs at a high pace. Some poor bowling from Theekshana and Pathirana also helped his cause as Sudharsan raced away to fifty off 32 balls.
After reaching his half-century, Sudharsan became even more aggressive and clobbered Deshpande for 20 runs in an over, with the help of one six and three fours. Gujarat were 173/2 in 17 overs and looked all set to get a big total on the board.
The next over bowled by Pathirana gave Gujarat just nine runs but Tushar Deshpande was taken to the cleaners by Pandya and Sai Sudharsan for 18 runs as nothing was going well for CSK bowlers against a formidable Titans batting line-up.
Pathirana came to bowl the last over and he was welcomed by sixes in the first two balls. However, the Sri Lankan pacer had the last laugh as he trapped Sudharsan in front of the wicket, ending the left-hander's batting carnage and denying him the chance to score his maiden IPL century.
In the next three balls, Pathirana gave just two runs and also removed Rashid Khan as Gujarat Titans finished with 214/4 on the board.
Gujarat Titans: Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shubman Gill, Sai Sudharsan, Hardik Pandya (capt), Vijay Shankar, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Mohit Sharma, Noor Ahmad, Mohammed Shami
Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Ajinkya Rahane, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, M.S. Dhoni (capt, wk), Deepak Chahar, Matheesha Pathirana, Tushar Deshpande, Maheesh Theekshana
Umpires: Nitin Menon (IND), Rod Tucker (AUS)
TV Umpire: KN Ananthapadmanabhan (IND)
Match Referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)
Agence France-Presse/ IANS
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