Having finished ninth in the points table last season, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) roared back in stunning fashion in IPL 2023 to reach their 10th final. 172 did not look like a good finish for CSK given their struggles after the dismissal of Ruturaj Gaikwad, but it eventually did prove to be enough. With the pitch slowing down, the spinners worked their magic from both ends to choke Gujarat Titans, picking four wickets between themselves in the middle overs for just 46 runs. Shubman Gill and Rashid Khan were the only batters to show some resistance against the CSK attack, but it was never enough as the defending champions succumbed to a 15-run loss.
But CSK’s win was largely down to MS Dhoni and his masterstrokes with the bowling changes and fielding setups. One of those glimpses was clearly seen in how he set up GT skipper Gujarat Titans in the sixth over.
Dhoni used his pacers in the first five overs before making a change in the attack. He introduced Maheesh Theekshana into the attack for the sixth over. In the fourth ball, the spinner dished a length delivery around off which forced the batter to move around to cut it to Moeen Ali in front of square. Hardik remained on strike. Dhoni then called Jadeja from backward square and stationed him at backward point.
Theekshana pulled his length back a tad bit and bowled on the fourth-stump line. Hardik tried to make room and forced himself to go over the infield, but couldn’t get the elevation. He got a thickish edge and the ball went exactly where Jadeja was moved. He comfortably grabbed the catch to script Hardik’s departure for just 8 off 7.
Former India head coach Ravi Shastri, who was there in the commentary box during that dismissal, hailed the field placement by Dhoni saying, “he played with Hardik’s ego there.”
VIDEO: MS Dhoni plots Hardik Pandya’s demise in GT vs CSK IPL 2023 Qualifier 1
When Dhoni lost the toss, he said that he wanted to bowl first as well because Gujarat Titans are excellent at chasing. But at Chepauk, such has been the dominance of CSK that even GT’s staggering record succumbed as they suffered their fourth loss in a run chase in 18 such scenarios in the last two seasons. Unfortunately, three of those defeats came in 2023.
The Hardik Pandya-led side however is not out of the title race. They will have another shot at making the finals and taking revenge on CSK. GT will face the winner of the Eliminator match between LSG and MI in the Qualifier 2.