MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings (CSK) marched into the IPL 2023 final after defeating defending champions Gujarat Titans (GT) by 15 runs in the Qualifier 1 on Tuesday (May 23) in Chennai.
The four-time winners will feature in their tenth final on Sunday - most for any team by far. Earlier, Gujarat Titans captain Hardik Pandya won the toss and elected to bowl first expecting some dew. Dhoni had also confirmed he too would have bowled first keeping GT's chasing record in mind.
CSK posted 172/7 on the board, courtesy Ruturaj Gaikwad (60), Devon Conway (40) and an important cameo by Ravindra Jadeja (22). Mohammad Shami and Mohit Sharma picked two wickets each for Titans.
In reply, except the in-form opener Shubman Gill (42) none of the GT batters could adjust to the Chepauk pitch as wickets kept falling. Only Rashid Khan (30) offered some resistance but it wasn't enough as CSK won by 15 runs after bowling out GT for 157. Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja, Maheesh Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana took two wickets apiece for CSK.
Dhoni, who has led CSK in every season that they have participated in, was once again posed the retirement question by Harsha Bhogle, who asked him whether he would return to Chennai next year with today's game being the last one at the venue that he and CSK would feature in, this season.
The 41-year-old did not confirm his retirement plans but said he would take his time in taking a call whether he would be back as a player or in any other role for CSK, while hinting that playing takes a lot out of him at this stage of his career, having played his last international game in 2019.
“I don't know. I have 8-9 months to decide. The small auction will be around December. So why to take that headache right now? I have ample time to decide. But, I will always be there for CSK whether it's in the playing form or sitting somewhere outside. I don't really know. Frankly, it takes a heavy toll. I have been out of home for literally 4 months now. January 31 was the time when I got out of work and started practicing in March. It takes a lot but I have ample time to decide,” he said.
Dhoni also lauded his team for their efforts after leading CSK to their tenth final, “I think IPL is too big to say it is just another final. It is no longer eight teams. Ten teams makes it all the more tougher. Hard work of two months. Lot of character showed by our players,”
“We try to create an environment and work out what is the strength of a fast bowler. We try to give them confidence and tell them ‘please try to explore your bowling’. We try to motivate them as much as possible. Support staff is there, Bravo and Eric are there,”
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Dhoni also admitted it was a good toss to lose, as he would have also bowled first had he won it. He also hailed Ravindra Jadeja for his all-round performance in the crucial clash.
“GT are a fantastic team and they’ve chased very well, so the thought was to get them in. But 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,” he added.
Dhoni hilariously also stated that he is an ‘annoying captain’ as he has a habit of changing fielding positions regularly due as per his gut feel.
“I didn't want it to go that way but you just hope it goes that way. You keep adjusting the field. I can be an annoying captain as I shift the fielder here and there every time. So the fielder needs to keep an eye on me. Imagine every two-three balls I am telling you to move 2 or 3 feet to the left or right. I believe in my gut feeling and what is really happening, so it pays off.” he signed off.
(With IPL inputs)