Global Affairs

IPL 2021: Dhoni steers Chennai to thrilling win against Delhi Capitals to reach final

Tom Curran took three wickets but conceded 13 from his final over as MS Dhoni sealed victory for CSK
Delhi Capitals 172-5 (20 overs): Shaw 60 (34), Pant 51 (35); Hazlewood 2-29
Chennai Super Kings 173-6(19.4 overs): Gaikwad 70 (50), Uthappa 63 (44); Curran 3-29
Chennai Super Kings won by four wickets
Scorecard, Table

Chennai Super Kings qualified for the IPL final after beating table-toppers Delhi Capitals in a final-over thriller.

Chasing 173, a stunning cameo of 18 not out from six balls from captain MS Dhoni secured the win.

He hit the 13 runs required in the 20th over, bowled by England’s Tom Curran (3-29).

Despite Dhoni’s heroics, there were also vital contributions from Ruturaj Gaikwad (70) and Robin Uthappa (63).

Earlier, Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant starred for Delhi by making half-centuries and ensuring they posted a competitive total of 172.

But despite losing Faf du Plessis in the first over, CSK recovered and were in firm control of the chase at 113-1 before the Capitals forced their way back into the game by chipping away with regular quick wickets.

Curran, playing his first match since the IPL restarted in September, was impressive and even removed England team-mate Moeen Ali with the first ball of his final over to swing the game back in his side’s favour.

But Dhoni hit three fours to steer CSK to their ninth IPL final.

Although Delhi lost, they will get a second chance to reach the final when they play the winner of the eliminator. That is between Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders and Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore and takes place on Monday 11 October.

Calm Dhoni rolls back the years

Former India captain Dhoni had been under pressure, with his form for CSK in this year’s IPL average at best. Before this game, he had just 96 runs from 14 innings.

But highly regarded for his calmness under pressure, who better to have at the crease in this situation?

Needing 13 from five balls, having just seen Ali dismissed from the first of the over, for Dhoni, it was no big deal.

Here’s how the over unfolded.

  • Ball One: Curran to Moeen, OUT.
  • Ball Two: Curran to Dhoni, four over extra cover
  • Ball Three: A lucky four edged to fine leg
  • Ball Four: Wide – nightmare for Curran
  • Ball Four (again): Four, crunched to deep square leg

The foundations for Dhoni’s heroics were laid by Gaikwad, CSK’s leading run scorer, and Uthappa.

Confidence for Dhoni can only bolster Chennai’s chances in the final as they had been struggling for middle order runs and an over-reliance on Gaikwad and fellow opener du Plessis.

They had lost their three previous matches, but this was the perfect time to find some form.

All-round contributions the key for Delhi

Delhi do get a second chance to make the final – the advantage of finishing in the top two.

They may have fallen short against Chennai, but there were plenty of positives to take forward into the second qualifier – mostly that there were significant contributions from so many of their players.

Shaw batted with maturity far beyond his 21 years, combining patience and aggression with precision before Pant and Shimron Hetmyer’s 83-run stand.

Curran’s return with the ball will please captain Pant, despite the final-over nightmare. It was his three-wicket haul that dragged Delhi back when they looked out of it.

He had some help from Shreyas Iyer, too – who made sure to shine in the field after failing with the bat.

The way Uthappa was batting, it was going to take something special to remove him and Iyer provided it with a perfectly-executed juggling catch jumping in and out of the boundary.

He followed it with a more straightforward catch before unfurling a bit of magic from deep midwicket to swiftly run out Ambati Rayudu, who was attempting a more-than-achievable second run.

Delhi fell short in the 2020 final. They’ve got to do it the hard way this year to put it right, but they did not finish top for nothing.

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