Chennai Super Kings` Ambati Rayudu plays a shot during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 final cricket match between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. Pic/AFP
Chennai Super Kings players were ecstatic after they defeated Gujarat Titans by five wickets via the DLS method in a rain-interrupted final and opener Ruturaj Gaikwad dedicated the victory to teammate Ambati Rayudu, who will be retiring after this season.
In a final stretched over three days, Chennai were set a revised target of 171 in 15 overs when the rain had stopped play a few balls into their innings after the Gujarat Titans had rode on a quickfire 96 by Sai Sudharsan and a half-century by Wriddhiman Saha to post 214/4 in 20 overs.
Ruturaj Giakwad said winning IPL 2023 in the final spread over three days and lasting just 35 overs was special considering that CSK had finished ninth among 10 teams last season.
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"This one was special, because of how it went last year for us. To come back in style, win away games, win in Chepauk, and the finish was unbelievable. We would like to dedicate this win to Rayudu," Giakwad told the official broadcaster after the match.
CSK looked in trouble as they needed 20 runs from the last 11 deliveries and after Mohammad Shami bowled a brilliant 19th over, had to score 13 from the final over. Mohit Sharma bowled four superb deliveries, conceding just three runs before Ravindra Jadeja hammered a six and a four off the last two deliveries to seal a dramatic victory for CSK in the thriller.
Pacer Deepak Chahar said Rayudu, who announced two days back that it will be his last IPL, was telling them 'I'll win the final'. "That belief that he has is unbelievable," said Chahar.
CSK looked in deep trouble at one time after losing Gaikwad (26) and Devon Conway (47) in quick succession. But veteran Ajinkya Rahane pulled them through with a 13-ball 27 and Ambati Rayudu put them on course to victory with an 8-ball 19. Shivam Dube remained not out on 32 off 21 balls.
Rahane, dismissed as an over-the-hill 'Test batter' by many before the start of IPL 2023, re-invented himself as an aggressive batter and played some crucial innings this season.
He gave credit to CSK management for backing him up.
"Credit goes to CSK management for backing me. They said they would back me completely if I got an opportunity. The victory is really special. Great team man [on Rayudu]. The knock he played today was really special," said Rahane.
Seasoned middle-order batter Rayudu was ecstatic that his career got a fairytale ending. The 37-year-old batter also equalled Rohit Sharma's record to win the most titles (six) as a player.
"It's a fairytale finish. I couldn't have asked for more. I'm fortunate to have played in really great sides. I can smile for the rest of my life. All the hard work I've done in the last 30 years, I'm happy I got to finish on this note. I would really like to thank my family, my father. Without them this wouldn't have been possible," said Rayudu.
On the occasion, some of the CSK players also dedicated this title to skipper MS Dhoni.
"You're always learning from MS, how to deal with players and situations. It's a massive part of IPL, and that's why we've done so well," said England all-rounder Moeen Ali.
On the occasion, assistant coach Mike Hussey thanked Ravindra Jadeja for getting them over the line.
"Hats off to Gujarat as well, they've been amazing through the season, but thankfully Jaddu got us over the line. Dhoni is an amazing human being. A good example is, in the qualifier, he was telling Senapati to remain calm, and he gave us a crucial run-out. Some of those shots from Rayudu, the slower balls that he hit over cover, not many people can do that," said Hussey.
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