Three more matches, IPL 2021 will be curtailed down but it's these three matches that would bring more excitement and enthusiasm like never before in the rest of the season. The battle gets intense as the playoffs for the 2021 IPL has begun and the top two teams, Delhi Capitals and the Chennai Super Kings took on each other in the 1st qualifier match. It was a must-win for both the teams to have a direct entry into the finals, and who would hate this golden opportunity. Chennai has carried more expectations than Delhi as the Men In Yellow contingent had faced a hat-trick defeat in the last leg of the league and the team was also in the need to repay Delhi Capitals for beating it in the league.
Delhi is a very young and energetic team whereas the Chennai team is all about experience and composure. As the direct gateway to the finals, the battle was expected to be very serious. CSK won the toss and Dhoni decided to field first. Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed early and he was followed by Shreyas Iyer. It was Prithvi Shaw's show for the Delhi batting line-up and he was bang on right from the first ball. The balls were flying across the ground as Prithvi was unstoppable. His wicket was finally picked up by Jadeja and he was dismissed for a well made 60 from just 34 balls.
Once he left, it was Rishabh Pant and Hetmyer who took the responsibility of carrying on the momentum. Pant scored a good half-century and Hetmyer scored 37 runs. With a good little comeback from the CSK bowlers towards the end, the Delhi Capitals were restricted to a total of 172 runs by losing five wickets. The stage was set for an interesting chase. However, CSK had seemed to have complicated its campaign and when it was high time for a flawless opening, Faf du Plessis got out early for just 2 runs. It was Ruturaj and Uthappa who stood and delivered in the middle overs. Both of them scored their half-centuries and Uthappa got out for 63.
CSK did a gamble by sending Shardul Thakur ahead for some quick runs but he was dismissed on the first ball that he faced. Rayudu was dismissed sooner and it was pressure for the men in yellow. After a brief partnership, Ruturaj fell for 70 and Moeen followed him. Let us agree on one fact now. Whenever Dhoni is criticized for something, he replies with the bat. And after a long time, he did that in this match. When MSD came ahead of Jadeja, it was a surprise, and when the team required 2 runs per ball, even his die-hard fans were sceptical about his decision. But when Dhoni takes a decision, he stood by it and proved it worthy, almost every time.
With 3 fours and one six, he hammered 18 runs from just 6 balls, chased the target and made it for his team, yet again. The fans of CSK were in jubilation as they witnessed a typical 'Dhoni finish' after ages. The CSK won the game by 4 wickets with 2 balls to spare. With this win, they are through to the finals, comfortably looking forward to who their opponent will be, in the coming days. Dhoni stood in the crease only for fifteen minutes but it was enough for him to change the weather of the match.
After facing setbacks, the CSK had cleared the clouds of scepticism by presenting an impressive show on the field as the crucial victory has taken Chennai to the finals for the 9th time in the 14-year-old IPL games. Chennai was indeed the only team to enter the finals most number of times and Dhoni's fleet has one more match to lift the trophy. It was Ruturaj's strong batting spirit, Uthappa's wonderful show, and Dhoni's audacity and much-needed innings that had sailed the team towards victory.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, MS Dhoni said, "It was a crucial innings. They were using the bigger boundary very well. Nothing special, just watch the ball and hit the ball. I haven't done a lot in the tournament. So you want to get that out of the system. If you are batting well in the nets, just look for the ball, what are the variations, where the bowler could bowl. Other than that there was nothing much in the mind. If there are too many things floating around, it becomes difficult to watch the ball. We are one side that hasn't done a lot. Even with Deepak, we bat till 9. With the way Shardul has been batting recently or even Deepak, both can contribute."
"When a batsman goes in, they can look to get a boundary from the first ball. And even they get one or two hits away, it could be a big impact because the run difference is only 15-20 runs. He (Uthappa) is somebody who likes to bat up the order. So we have left it open. Whoever gets out, one of you will bat at 3. We have just left it to god, how we decide that. We have to (leave it to god) because we can't decide. Depends on which opener gets out against which opposition we are playing", Dhoni added.
As CSK has entered the finals, RCB will be taking on KKR on Monday in the Eliminator round and the winner of this match will play against Delhi Capitals in another playoff on October 13 and the winner of this match will be taking on CSK in the finals, that will be held on October 15. If CSK wins the finals, it will be the fourth time that the team is lifting the trophy. After Dhoni finished off in style, Indian skipper and his successor Virat Kohli took to Twitter and wrote, "Anddddd the king is back. The greatest finisher ever in the game. Made me jump outta my seat once again tonight."
Anddddd the king is back ❤️the greatest finisher ever in the game. Made me jump Outta my seat once again tonight.@msdhoni— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) October 10, 2021