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INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

Magala, Pretorius clinch IPL winners’ medals with Chennai Super Kings

Magala, Pretorius clinch IPL winners’ medals with Chennai Super Kings
Players of Chennai Super Kings celebrate with the trophy after their victory against the Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 final cricket match at the Narendra Modi Stadium on 30 May 2023 in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

The Chennai Super Kings claimed a record-equalling fifth Indian Premier League title on Monday evening against David Miller’s Gujarat Titans.

The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) claimed a thrilling final-ball victory, in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final, over the Gujarat Titans on Monday evening.

CSK have a two-man South African contingent in their squad, with Sisanda Magala and Dwaine Pretorius donning winners’ medals.

Magala and Pretorius only played in three matches combined this season –  Magala in two and Pretorius in one.

Conversely, big-hitting South African batter David Miller was in the Gujarat Titans playing XI on Monday evening. It was his second successive IPL final, having won his maiden title with the Titans in 2022.

The five-wicket Duckworth-Lewis victory by the yellow men from Chennai is their fifth title in 15 seasons of IPL cricket – the joint most, with the Mumbai Indians.

The Gujarat Titans were on the cusp of victory with only two deliveries left to bowl in the encounter on Monday. With 13 runs needed off the final over, bowled by the experienced Mohit Sharma, the match seemed dead and buried when he nailed four consecutive yorkers – resulting in only three runs off the first four balls.

But the predictability of the length was eventually Sharma’s undoing as Ravindra Jadeja stepped deeper into his crease and unleashed an almighty swing of the willow as the penultimate delivery of the final flew over Sharma’s head for six runs. Four needed off one ball.

Sharma stuck to his guns with the full-length option but this time he strayed closer to Jadeja’s pads, who guided the ball excellently past short-fine leg for a boundary four.

It was a perfect dramatic finish to a riveting season of IPL cricket.

“God’s been kind to me as well, but I think God gave him a little better today,” said Gujarat captain Hardik Pandya about opposing skipper MS Dhoni after the final encounter.

Shivam Dube of Chennai Super Kings is bowled out by Noor Ahmad of Gujarat Titans (not pictured) during the IPL qualifier match between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings at MA Chidambaram Stadium on 23 May 2023 in Chennai, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

Ruturaj Gaikwad of Chennai Super Kings leaves the field after being caught out by David Miller of Gujarat Titans (not pictured) during the IPL qualifier match between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings at MA Chidambaram Stadium on 23 May 2023 in Chennai, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

First innings

The IPL is synonymous with unearthing both local and international young talent.

On the biggest stage, 21-year-old Indian Sai Sudharsan stood tallest with the bat striking an incredible 96 off 47 deliveries (eight fours, six sixes) for the Gujarat Titans in only his seventh IPL appearance of the season and 13th overall.

The innings consisted of swashbuckling blows by the southpaw which had the Titans’ home ground, the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, on their feet throughout.

Read more in Daily Maverick: How the Indian Premier League whirlwind hit the world of cricket for a six

The entertaining innings by Sudharsan as well as a quick-fire half-century by opener Wriddhiman Saha propelled the Titans to a competitive score of 214 for four wickets in their 20 overs.

Miller failed to get to the crease for the Titans. “I think we tick a lot of boxes as a team,” said skipper Pandya.

Sai Sudharsan of the Gujarat Titans bats during the 2023 IPL final match between Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans at Narendra Modi Stadium on 29 May 2023 in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

Noor Ahmad of the Gujarat Titans bowls during the 2023 IPL final match between Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans at Narendra Modi Stadium on 29 May 2023 in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

Noor Ahmad of the Gujarat Titans drops a catch during the 2023 IPL final match between Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans at Narendra Modi Stadium on 29 May 2023 in Ahmedabad, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia / Getty Images)

Perfect finish

During the innings break, the rain – which had forced the IPL final to be moved to the reserve day on Monday – returned.

Five overs were lost from the CSK chase and Dhoni’s men received a revised total of 171 to chase in 15 overs.

CSK got off to the perfect start with a 74-run, 39-delivery partnership between South African-born New Zealand international Devon Conway and Indian opener Ruturaj Gaikwad.

But Afghan spin wizard Noor Ahmad grabbed both openers’ wickets in the seventh over. Noor finished with excellent match figures of two wickets for 17 runs in his three overs – the only bowler from both teams to go at under nine runs an over, finishing with an astonishing economy rate of 5.66.

“We play with a lot of heart, really proud of the way we kept fighting. We have a motto – we win together, we lose together,” added Pandya.

From there, promising but stuttering innings by Shivam Dube (not out 32 off 21), Ajinkya Rahane (27 off 13) and Ambati Rayudu (19 off eight) brought CSK close.

Indian cricket legend Dhoni came to the crease but was dismissed for a first-ball duck by Sharma who picked up two wickets in the 13th over to keep the Titans in the game.

But Jadeja came up with the right moves right at the end to overcome the excellent death bowling of Sharma and claim a fifth title for the CSK franchise.

“This is the best time to announce my retirement,” said the 41-year-old Dhoni who has teased the possibility of retiring all season.

“But the amount of love I have received all over. The easy thing would be to walk away from here, but the harder thing would be working hard for nine months and try to play another IPL.

“It would be a gift from me, won’t be easy on the body. You do get emotional, the first game at CSK everyone was chanting my name. My eyes were full of water, I needed to take some time off in the dugout.” DM

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