Chennai, May 25: Chennai Super Kings powered their way to a record-breaking 10th Indian Premier League final with a 15-run win over defending champion Gujarat Titans in the playoffs on Tuesday.
Gujarat will have another chance to meet Chennai in the final when it takes on the winner of Wednesday's playoff between Mumbai Indians and Lucknow Super Giants. Opening batter Ruturaj Gaikwad top-scored in the match with 60 off 44 balls before cameos from the Chennai middle-order batters guided the home team to 172-7.
Chennai didn't deviate from its perfect bowling script of squeezing the teams through spinners in the middle overs as Gujarat got bowled out for 157 off the final ball.
It was a remarkable turnaround for four-time champion Chennai this season after finishing ninth last year. "I think IPL is too big to say it is just another final," Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said. "Ten teams makes it all the more tougher.
Everyone has contributed. Yes, middle order hasn't got ample opportunity but they have chipped in."
Gujarat, one of the best chasers in the IPL, couldn't get momentum in the run-chase when fast bowler Deepak Chahar (2-29) continued to excel in the powerplay and had Wriddhiman Saha caught in the deep in the third over.
Even Shubman Gill, who came into the playoff with two successive centuries, struggled to get going against hard lengths of Chennai bowlers to score 42 off 38 balls before Chahar also had him caught in the deep off a brilliant short ball in his return spell.
Spinners Ravindra Jadeja (2-18) and Maheesh Theekshana (2-28) then squeezed the runs in the middle overs as they found plenty of help off the wicket before Rashid Khan hit a rapid 30 off 16 balls to narrow down the defeat.
Chennai's find of the tournament fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana (2-37) was a bit wayward bowling seven wide balls before the Sri Lankan pacer wrapped up the innings by claiming the last wicket of Mohammed Shami off the final ball.
Earlier, after being put into bat, Gaikwad dominated an 87-run opening wicket stand with Devon Conway, who struggled to score 40 off 34 balls.
Darshan Nalkande became only the fifth player in the history of IPL to play his first game of the season in the playoff and also had Gaikwad caught at mid-wicket off a no-ball in his first over.
Gaikwad hit seven fours and a six before he holed out at long-on in the 11th over off Mohit Sharma (2-31) and Conway tried to accelerate in the death overs but also picked up Rashid Khan at deep mid-wicket off Shami (2-28).
However, Jadeja made 22 off 16 balls while Ambati Rayudu and Ajiknya Rahane both scored quick 17s to propel Chennai's total. Shami conceded 15 runs off the final over after allowing only 13 off his first three overs.
"We were quite spot on but we made some basic errors," said Gujarat captain Hardik Pandya, who made eight before getting caught at point inside the powerplay.
"We must've conceded 16 runs or so due to our soft balls, (but) we have one more chance of going to the final. Two days later we will give it a crack again." (AP)