Chennai Super Kings (CSK) pulled off a stunning heist to beat Gujarat Titans (GT) by five wickets and win its fifth Indian Premier League title at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Chasing a rain-curtailed 171-run target in 15 overs, CSK needed 10 to win off the last two balls, only for Ravindra Jadeja to hoist Mohit Sharma straight down the ground for a six and follow it up with a glanced four to the fine-leg boundary.
Mohit, until then, had seemed set to defend 13 runs in the last over. He conceded just three off the first four deliveries but missed his length trying to bowl yorkers off the last two.
Sai Sudharsan’s terrific 96 (47b, 8×4, 6×6) had propelled defending champion GT to a mammoth 214 for four. The score was the highest any team had made in an IPL final, but CSK was left to chase a reduced target after a 20-minute shower three balls into its reply left the turf unplayable for nearly two hours and 30 minutes.
Two practice pitches at the extreme ends of the main 22-yard strip were mangled because the covers couldn’t be brought on in time.
But once the contest restarted at 12.10 a.m., CSK scored at a rapid pace. Ruturaj Gaikwad (26, 16b, 3×4, 1×6) and Devon Conway (47, 25b, 4×4, 2×6) put on 74 runs in just 39 balls, and Ajinkya Rahane (27, 13b, 2×4, 2×6) and Shivam Dube (32 n.o., 21b, 2×6) continued in the same vein.
With 38 needed from three overs, Ambati Rayudu, turning out for the last time in the IPL, hammered Mohit for two sixes and a four (19, 8b, 1×4, 2×6). But Mohit brought GT right back into the game by claiming Rayudu and M.S. Dhoni off back-to-back balls.
Mohammed Shami conceded just eight runs in the penultimate over, leaving Mohit to defend 13. And just when the 34-year-old former CSK pacer appeared to be getting the job done, Jadeja snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Trump card Rashid Khan had an ordinary day for GT, conceding 44 runs in three overs.
Earlier in the evening, all eyes were on Indian cricket’s crown prince, Shubman Gill, who seemed set to own one of the game’s biggest stages. But Tamil Nadu batter Sudharsan, who was bought by GT in the February 2022 auction at his base price of Rs 20 lakh, ended up carving a niche for himself.
Coming in at the fall of Gill (67/1, eighth over), Sudharsan’s was a superbly paced knock. His first 20 runs took as many as 17 balls, watchful as he was when Jadeja and Maheesh Theekshana bowled stifling lines (overs seven to 10, 24 runs).
But from the next 30 deliveries, he scored 76 golden runs to make his highest IPL score in his 13th match.
GT, after being asked to bat, had a fine PowerPlay, with Wriddhiman Saha (54, 39b, 5×4, 1×6) and Gill (39, 20b, 7×4) combining to score 62 runs. CSK didn’t help itself, fluffing as many as three chances, including a sitter by Deepak Chahar at square-leg when Gill was on three.
And the batter capitalised, looking resplendent for as long as he was in the middle. The 23-year-old hit Tushar Deshpande and Theekshana for a hat-trick of fours each, but his best shot came off Chahar, a trademark half-cut when barely allowed any room.
But in the seventh over, Jadeja worked his magic, drawing Gill out of the crease and having him stumped. That brought Sudharsan to the middle, and after a few overs’ recce, he made the play.
He steered Matheesha Pathirana to the off-side boundary twice to get going before smashing Jadeja and Theekshana for three sixes in the mid-wicket region. The half century (32b) came with a four behind point off Pathirana.
In the 17th over, Deshpande (4-0-56-0) was sent on a leather hunt. Sudharsan lined up for a scoop, but the ball sailed over Dhoni for a six via a leading edge. The 21-year-old, who oozes orthodoxy, perhaps felt corrupted and came up with three sublime drives to the fence: down the ground, through cover, and extra-cover.
And when Sudharsan launched Pathirana (4-0-44-0) for back-to-back sixes at the start of the 20th—over extra-cover and a slog-sweep over long-on—a century seemed imminent, only for a yorker-length ball to trap him in front. But even his best efforts were inadequate.