IPL 2021: Gaikwad, Uthappa and Dhoni lead Chennai into ninth final

10/10/2021
 Ruturaj Gaikwad (70 off 50 balls) and Robin Uthappa (63 off 44 balls) played important knocks before MS Dhoni (18 not out off six balls) helped Chennai Super Kings book a spot in the IPL final for the ninth time. After winning the toss, Chennai conceded 172 runs before hunting down the target with two balls to spare to beat Delhi Capitals by four wickets in Qualifier 1 at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

A target of 173 seemed tough as Anrich Nortje bowled Faf du Plessis through the gate on the fourth ball of the innings. Robin Uthappa, promoted to one-down ahead of Ambati Rauydu, got off the mark with a drive through covers before welcoming Avesh Khan in the next over with a boundary. Ruturaj Gaikwad welcomed Kagiso Rabada in the fourth over by charging down the pitch and slamming a straight six. Uthappa followed it up with a flick off Rabada before taking 20 runs off Khan in the final over of power-play.

Delhi pulled things back by drying up the boundaries in four overs after power-play. But Gaikwad and Uthappa kept the scoreboard with the latter reaching his half-century in 35 balls. Gaikwad took Patel for a four and six over his head in the 11th over. Uthappa went after Ravichandran Ashwin in the next over, slamming him for back-to-back fours.

But Tom Curran broke the 110-run partnership in the 14th over, as Uthappa miscued the pull to be safely pouched by Shreyas Iyer at long-on after tossing the ball in the air. One brought two for Curran as Shardul 'hakur's promotion to four ended in holing out to long-on. In the next over, Rayudu was run-out as Iyer fired a throw from long-on which Rabada collected quickly to whip off the bails.

Gaikwad continued to march before finding deep mid-wicket in the 19th over off Khan. But Ali hit Khan for a four through backward point before Dhoni clobbered a six over deep mid-wicket to take 11 off the over. With 13 needed off the final over, Ali mistimed a pull to deep square leg off Curran on the first ball. Dhoni then struck consecutive boundaries off Curran; slapping over extra cover followed by an inner edge running through fine leg. Dhoni finished off the chase in style with a pull-through mid-wicket, giving his team a spot in the final.

Earlier, Delhi were lifted from 80/4 in 10.2 overs to a competitive 172/4 in 20 overs, thanks to an excellent recovery staged by Shimron Hetmyer (37) and Rishabh Pant (51 not out). Delhi reached 51/2 in power-play, 43 of which came off Prithvi Shaw's bat off just 19 balls. Shaw began with two top-edge boundaries off Josh Hazlewood in the second over. Shaw took the attack against Deepak Chahar in the next over, collecting four boundaries, with the most impressive of them a back-foot punch through the gap in point.

Shikhar Dhawan lifted Hazlewood for a boundary in his next over. But on the next ball, Hazlewood got Dhawan (7) to nick behind on a seaming-away delivery. But there was no stopping Shaw as he hit two sixes over mid-wicket and down the ground off Thakur. Thakur almost had Shaw out on 42 as MS Dhoni spilled a difficult one-handed catch to his right.

Hazlewood had his second wicket of the match as Iyer (1) miscued a flick on the cross-seamer to cover point. Shaw brought up his fifty in 27 balls with a cut through point followed by a sweep through the square on the leg-side off Ravindra Jadeja. Patel's promotion at four didn't pay off, holing out to long-on off Ali in the tenth over. In the next over, Jadeja ended Shaw's stay as the right-hander mistimed the loft to a diving long-off running to his left.

Hetmyer and Pant shared an 83-run partnership off 50 balls for the fifth'wicket. The duo's partnership meant that Delhi regained rhythm which had slowed down in the overs 10-13. Dwayne Bravo separated the pair in 19th over as Hetmyer mistimed pull to wide long-on. Pant reached his fifty on the final ball with a brace as Delhi finished beyond'170, which wasn't enough in stopping Chennai from maintaining their clean slate while chasing this season.

Brief Scores: Delhi Capitals 172/5 in 20 overs (Prithvi Shaw 60, Rishabh Pant 51 not out, Josh Hazlewood 2/29, Ravindra Jadeja 1/23) lost to Chennai Super Kings 173/6 in 19.4 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 70, Robin Uthappa 63, Tom Curran 3/29, Anrich Nortje 1/31) by four wickets.

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