It was yet another yellow wave at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday when MS Dhoni and Chennai Super Kings strolled past Gujarat Titans into yet another IPL final. On the back of a solid batting performance was Dhoni marshaling his bowlers to successfully defend a total of 172 and beat the defending champions by 15 runs.
For CSK fans, it is a moment to rejoice as the Chennai team reached a record 10th final, the wound from the 2022 season where they finished ninth finally soothed. Dhoni recognised the importance of reaching the final as well when he said, “IPL is too big to say it’s just another final. [It] used to be eight top teams, now it’s 10. I won’t say it’s just another final. It’s [been the] hard work for two months. Everybody has contributed.”
Losing the toss meant that Dhoni and his team were put in to bat with Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway putting up a solid opening partnership of 87 runs. The middle order of Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu and Ravindra Jadeja also provided a good finish to the CSK innings. The CSK bowlers all chipped in to bowl GT out for 157 in 20 overs and seal a spot in the final in Ahmedabad.
Dhoni was complimentary about his bowlers and said, “It was a good toss to lose. If Jaddu gets conditions that help him. he’s very difficult to hit. His bowling changed the game. Not to forget his partnership with Moeen. We try to create an environment and give them confidence and tell them please try to explore your bowling.”
For the 41-year old, every IPL match has asked the question of “How long will Dhoni stay?” And after CSK’s triumph at their home stadium in the first qualifier, the man was contemplative when answering the question. He said, “I have 8-9 months to decide. Why take that headache now. I’ll always be there for CSK, whether it’s playing or something outside. Frankly it takes a heavy toll - I’ve been out of [my] home for 4 months now. It takes a lot but I have ample time to decide.”
GT will next play the winner of the first eliminator between Lucknow Super Giants and the Mumbai Indians on Friday.