Goodbye Ambati Rayudu: MS Dhoni confers a befitting honor to CSK's Impact player as he retires from IPL!

The Chennai Super Kings (CSK) are the Champions of IPL 2023. Yes, the perfect mixture of veterans and young blood along with an impressive delivery of team work have for yet another proven why CSK is one of the greatest teams in the IPL history. The final contest was between MS Dhoni-led CSK and Hardik Pandya led Gujarat Titans (GT) and it was held on Monday - May 29 on the reserve day as the actual schedule for the summit clash was deferred in the wake of rainfall in the host city of Ahmedabad. 

The final began in a style on Monday with CSK opting to chase. For the CSK fans, they expected that the yellow brigade would lift the trophy for the fifth time and for the CSK players, they must win the finals and make the chase memorable as winning the title would give more power to Dhoni's captaincy and would give a relishing farewell to Ambati Rayudu, a 37-year-old batter who was one of CSK's impact players in IPL 2023. 

Ahead of the final, Rayudu announced that he would get retired from the IPL and that the final clash with GT would be his last game. Being a veteran cricketer, Rayudu has a rich history behind his IPL journey. He played for Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings and have been one of the crucial batsmen for both the teams. His announcement of retirement stunned the fans and they expressed that CSK's victory in the finals would give Rayudu a yellovely farewell. 

Rayudu took to Twitter on May 28 and wrote, "2 great teams mi and csk, 204 matches,14 seasons,11 playoffs, 8 finals, 5 trophies. hopefully 6th tonight. It’s been quite a journey. I have decided that tonight’s final is going to be my last game in the IPL. I truly have enjoyed playing this great tournament. Thank u all. No u turn." Though Rayudu's role as an Impact player this season didn't went well, fans admired him for being one of lieutenants of MS Dhoni. 

Rayudu had the capability of changing the game as one of the pillars of CSK's batting battalion. CSK bought Ambati Rayudu in 2017 and he gained the title of 'Power Hitter'. Since then, Rayudu had been an integral part of the CSK team and in 2022, he was bought by CSK again for Rs 6.75 crore. In total, Rayudu has played 204 matches in IPL and had scored 4,332 runs.  

On Monday, Rayudu played his last IPL game against GT in the finals. GT played first and put 214 runs on board, which has become the highest target in the final in IPL's history. Chasing the big score, CSK's momentum was interrupted by rainfall and the match was paused briefly. When the match resumed, CSK was given a revised target of 171 under the Duckworth Lewis method with the pressure of chasing the target in fifteen overs. 

In the chasing, Rayudu played a quickfire where he scored 19 runs off eight balls with one four and two sixes. The chase was nail-biting as it went till the end. Eventually, Jadeja's brilliant performance in the final over had led CSK to register a big victory in the finals. With the triumph, CSK has lifted the IPL title for the fifth time, equaling the tally of Mumbai Indians. The CSK fans, players, and the management were over the moon as they finally etched a history after a rigid tourney. 

For Rayudu, it was emotional as the team has won the title in his last match and that he can retire from the IPL with an ever-lasting memory. But, little did he know that there was a surprising element waiting for him. Usually, the captain of the winning team would collect the trophy after which it will be shared to the teammates. However, on Monday, CSK's skipper MS Dhoni broke this stereotype and gave a big and befitting honor to Ambati Rayudu. 

Yes, in a heart-touching gesture, MS Dhoni called Ambati Rayudu to the stage to receive the IPL trophy in a way of honoring him for his contribution to the team as he is retiring from the IPL. Rayudu was all smiles when he received the trophy and along with Rayudu, Jadeja too received the trophy for being instrumental behind CSK's victory in the finals. Rayudu received the trophy from BCCI President Roger Binny and BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. 

After a thrilling victory in his last game, Rayudu said that he can now afford to smile for the rest of his life after a 'fairytale finish' to his cricketing career. Rayudu said, "It's a fairytale finish. I couldn't have asked for more. I'm fortunate to have played in really great sides. I can smile for the rest of my life. All the hard work I have done in the last 30 years, I'm happy I got to finish on this note. I would really like to thank my family, my father. Without them, this wouldn't have been possible."