WATCH : MS Dhoni ‘plays with ego’ of Hardik Pandya with masterstroke to plot GT captain’s dismissal

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Chennai Super Kings (CSK) made a remarkable comeback in IPL 2023, reaching their 10th final after finishing ninth in the points table last season. Although 172 seemed like an average total for CSK, considering their struggles after Ruturaj Gaikwad’s dismissal, it turned out to be sufficient.

As the pitch slowed down, CSK’s spinners controlled the game, taking four wickets for just 46 runs during the middle overs, putting pressure on the Gujarat Titans. Shubman Gill and Rashid Khan showed some resistance, but their efforts fell short as the defending champions suffered a 15-run defeat.

The credit for CSK’s victory mainly goes to MS Dhoni, who made strategic bowling changes and set up the fielding positions effectively. One instance of his brilliance was evident in the sixth over when he outsmarted the Gujarat Titans captain.

Dhoni utilized his fast bowlers in the initial five overs before introducing Maheesh Theekshana into the attack. On the fourth ball, Theekshana delivered a length ball around off stump, forcing the batsman to move and attempt a cut shot towards Moeen Ali in front of square. Meanwhile, Hardik remained at the striker’s end. Dhoni then positioned Jadeja from backward square to backward point.

Theekshana adjusted his length slightly and bowled on the fourth-stump line. Hardik tried to create room and go over the infield but couldn’t achieve the required elevation. He ended up getting a thick edge, precisely towards Jadeja, who comfortably took the catch, leading to Hardik’s dismissal for just 8 off 7 balls.

During this dismissal, former India head coach Ravi Shastri, who was in the commentary box, praised Dhoni’s field placement, stating, “he played with Hardik’s ego there.”

When Dhoni lost the toss, he mentioned that he also preferred to bowl first because the Gujarat Titans were known for their excellent chasing abilities. However, at Chepauk, CSK’s dominance prevailed, causing the Gujarat Titans’ impressive chase record to crumble. It was their fourth loss in a run chase out of 18 such situations in the last two seasons, unfortunately, with three of those defeats occurring in 2023.

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