Gujarat Titans’s young batter Sai smashes 96 in summit clash to power defending champions to 214-4 against Chennai
Sai Sudharsan during his 96 against CSK at Ahmedabad yesterday. Pic/AFP
Sai Sudharsan, the baby of Gujarat Titans,, took giant steps to propel the defending champions to a formidable total of 214 for 4 against Chennai Super Kings in the rain-hit IPL-16 final at the Narendra Modi Stadium here on Monday.
Primarily given the role of anchoring the innings while the others around him would go for broke, 21-year-old Sai (96, 47 balls, 8x4, 6x6) showed that he too was capable of being an aggressor for a strike rate of 204.25.
The match was delayed because of a wet outfield after CSK had scored four for no loss in the first over.
GT Saha’s during his 54
He was particularly severe on Chennai Super Kings’s Lasith Malinga clone Matheesha Pathirana, taking 34 runs off only 14 deliveries. The small-built southpaw unleashed some feisty hits over the ropes. The Tamil Nadu batter missed his first IPL century against CSK by four runs when Pathirana toe crusher had him plumb in front.
However, two successive sixes off Pathirana in the first two balls of the 20th over had raised his century hopes. He first hit the Sri Lankan pacer over extra cover and then went on his knee to slog sweep the slinger’s 146kmh delivery over long-on and deep inside the stands.
Sai is more of an orthodox batter, who is comfortable playing shots out of coaching manual so his attempt to scoop Tushar Deshpande over MS Dhoni’s head looked comical. Yet, he managed to beat the short third man for a boundary.
Deshpande (0-56) had a forgettable day as Chennai’s fragile bowling attack got exposed. Titans made the best use of the Powerplay as well as the death overs, scoring 133 runs in that period. Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha (54, 39 balls, 5x4, 1x6) did well to score 62 runs in Powerplay while Sai made sure that they maximised the last five overs by scoring 71 as skipper Hardik Pandya chose to give more strike to the marauding left-hander.
Unlike the other captains, Dhoni has his own strategy but on Monday it backfired when he chose to use only two bowlers for the first two overs. As soon as he brought in the spinners Gujarat’s run rate dropped from 10.3 to 8.6but that relief was shortlived as Saha and Sai decided to take on the bowlers more aggressively for their 42-ball 64-run partnership.
Strong partnerships and strike rotation proved to be fruitful for the Titans. Gill and Saha added 67 in 42 balls while Sai and Hardik (21, 12 balls, 2x6) were harsh on the Chennai bowlers milking 81 runs in 33 balls.
Although Motera is home to Titans, the 130,000-capacity stadium turned into a yellow carpet by fans wearing No. 7 jerseys. And Dhoni didn’t disappoint them when he reacted in 0.12 seconds to send Gill back to the pavilion. Ravindra Jadeja pitched it up and Gill lunged forward to drive, but the quicker ball turned sharply, and in a flash, Dhoni whipped off the bails to catch this season’s three-time centurion out of his crease.