MS Dhoni’s team pile on 217 for seven and then restrict LSG to 205/7 for a 12-run win in their second match of the 2023 IPL
Except the hilarious minutes-long dog chase before play, Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) — and indeed MS Dhoni’s — nearly four-year long IPL homecoming had an all too familiar look to it: top order setting the tone, middle order chipping in, ‘Thala’ finishing off with a couple of sixes, the skipper snuffing the life out of opposition batters with his spin armoury to win at their den.
Captain Dhoni at Chepauk can play with even droplets of runs while defending totals. He had bucketloads this time as Ruturaj Gaikwad’s 31-ball 57 and Devon Conway’s 47 (29b) helped the the hosts finish on 217/7. LSG were restricted to 205/7.
Kyle Mayers, coming off a match-winning half-century, got LSG up and running and sniffing the total. His early onslaught had him pounce on anything full from Ben Stokes, short from Deepak Chahar and largely indisciplined deliveries from Tushar Deshpande, whose 11-ball fourth over leaked 18 runs. The visitors raced to 73 in five overs before Dhoni pulled the brakes on with spin.
Moeen Ali struck immediately, getting Mayers caught at deep midwicket after the left-hander completed his fifty off 21 balls. LSG had the foundation, but a mini collapse didn’t let them really build on it quickly. Mitchell Santner then got Deepak Hooda before Rahul (20, 18b) threw it away the next over. Both holed out in the deep, and so did Krunal Pandya as LSG were down to 105/4 at the halfway mark
Moeen, unused as a bowler in CSK’s opener in Ahmedabad, finished with 4/26, which included cleaning up Marcus Stoinis (21, 18b) that, despite Nicholas Pooran’s 18-ball 32, effectively handed CSK the match.
Coming into their season’s first home game having won 40 of their previous 56 games at Chepauk, CSK knew the template: go hard in the powerplay with the bat. Put in by Rahul, they did just that. Mayers got some early swing, but Avesh Khan was wayward — the India pacer began with a wide down the leg that cost five runs and a review — as Conway found his driving range with consecutive fours.
Gaikwad too warmed up with a couple of boundaries before turning the heat on off-spinner K Gowtham with three sixes that showed the versatility of the in-form batter. For the first he picked the good length early, went back and deposited the ball straight back; for the second he plonked the full ball outside off over long-off; for the third he danced down the track to smack it over cover.
Mark Wood, the England tearaway who breathed fire in LSG’s opener, also bore the brunt of the CSK openers’ fury as a gentle Gaikwad flick off his thigh for a flat six capped the hosts’ 79-run powerplay phase.
Gaikwad brought up his second straight fifty in 25 balls, and the 100-run stand with Conway at eight overs. For the next four overs, LSG pulled things back a touch, conceding 25 while sending the duo back. Ravi Bishnoi had Gaikwad top edge one to short third man before Krunal Pandya pulled off a low diving catch charging in to Conway’s miscued pull off Wood
Yet, even as wickets fell, CSK continued to press on and produce the frequent big hits through Dube (27, 16b), Ali (19, 13b) and Ambati Rayudu’s (27*, 14b) late dash. With each dismissal, the crowd’s decibel level grew in anticipation of Dhoni walking out. The skipper kept them waiting until six wickets and 115 deliveries but in two of those five remaining balls, he hit two sixes through a thickish yet flashy cut past third man and a mighty pull. Wood got him slicing to deep point on his third attempt, but the three-ball show sufficed in pushing the total and also turning back the clock. Both for him and CSK.