CSK players and spectators erupted in wild celebrations as well, and as they returned home or to their hotels in the early morning hours, they may find it challenging to recall those exhilarating moments.
Ravindra Jadeja jubilantly erupts into celebration, exuding sheer joy and excitement, as he smashes the ball for the winning runs against GT.
The final match, originally scheduled to begin on Sunday evening, stretched over three days, finally concluding in the early hours of Tuesday. Ravindra Jadeja's sensational performance came to the forefront as he smashed 10 runs off the last two balls, securing CSK's fifth IPL title. The persistent rain delay seemed interminable, yet it culminated in a thrilling match on a boisterous night—or was it dawn?—that resulted in devastating heartbreak for the Titans and unadulterated joy for CSK.
The manner in which CSK ultimately achieved victory is astonishing and difficult to comprehend. Let us delve into the game's final over. MS Dhoni's team needed 14 runs to chase down the revised target of 171 in 15 overs, a task that appeared challenging but not insurmountable.
However, Mohit Sharma commenced with a flawlessly executed over, bringing the game down to the last two balls. Nerves reverberated throughout the stadium; Dhoni sat motionless in the dugout, his eyes fixed in concentration, while Stephen Fleming gazed skyward, lost in thought. Even the typically animated Ashish Nehra stood frozen, caught up in the intense tension of the moment. Sharma appeared driven by urgency, while Jadeja exuded an aura of calm and composure. The stadium was enveloped in a palpable sense of uneasy excitement as if everyone sensed that something extraordinary was about to unfold.
So it was, as Jadeja stood back and smashed Sharma's near-yorker into the misty night. More anxious, hot seconds followed, but Sharma, a fairy-tale revival story with all the makings of a tragic-hero, wandered down the leg-side for Jadeja to shovel past the fine-leg for four. Jadeja dashed forward, helmet and bat in the air. "I was just thinking I need to swing hard, as much as I can," he continued, catching his breath with sweat streaming down his brow. "I wasn't thinking about where the ball would land; I was just trying to swing hard. I was backing myself up and concentrating on hitting straight because I knew Mohit could bowl those slower balls."
The CSK players and spectators erupted into wild celebrations, and as they returned home or to their hotels in the early morning hours, they found themselves struggling to recall those extraordinary moments. It felt like an ecstatic blackout, a dream, or perhaps even a mind-altering trip. Undoubtedly, it could be labeled as the most peculiar and captivating IPL final in history.
The triumph of the win was primarily built upon the foundation laid by the opening batsmen. Despite the imposing revised target, the CSK opening duo of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway fearlessly took charge, refusing to allow any of the Titans' bowlers to find their rhythm. Gaikwad unleashed a barrage of boundaries against Shami, smashing two fours in the very first over.
Meanwhile, Conway confidently stepped out and elegantly lofted Hardik Pandya's second delivery of the second over beyond the extra-cover boundary. The onslaught continued as Shami conceded 11 runs in the following over, with Conway once again leading the charge. Sensing the need for a breakthrough, the Titans introduced the masterful leg-spinner, Rashid Khan.
However, their plan backfired, as Gaikwad and Conway mercilessly plundered 17 runs off his over. The crescendo of their partnership was Gaikwad's square-cut boundary off the last ball, signalling their 50-run alliance in a mere four overs.
The circumstances demanded a bold and aggressive approach without any room for hesitation. The required run rate was exceptionally high, leaving no space for playing it safe. CSK had to maintain an incessant onslaught, aiming to score boundaries every over in order to keep the target within reach. With such a high-risk strategy, the possibility of losing wickets loomed ominously.
However, the Titans had to wait until the seventh over for their first breakthrough. Gaikwad attempted to disdainfully strike Noor Ahmad down the ground but ended up miscuing the shot, resulting in a catch for Rashid Khan at backward point. Nonetheless, CSK had already raced to an impressive 74 runs in just 6.3 overs by that point. Merely three balls later, Ahmad managed to induce a mishit from Conway, who was caught at long-on, swinging the momentum back in favor of the Titans.
In this tournament, the emergence of the left-arm wrist spinner has been nothing short of remarkable. Often, batsmen tend to adapt to the variations and angles of a bowler, causing the initial novelty to fade away. However, Ahmad has displayed remarkable growth and maturity throughout the tournament. In addition to his array of variations, he possesses the astuteness to assess which delivery to bowl to which specific batsman and at the right moment. Against the aggressive Shivam Dube, he cleverly utilized leg breaks to stifle his scoring, forcing him to stretch and reach for the ball.
Dube, who is rendered less potent when playing away from his body, found it difficult to make an impact. The pressure mounted by Ahmad after his twin-wicket overplayed a crucial role in tightening the game, eventually leading to the dismissal of Ajinkya Rahane, who managed a quickfire 27 runs off just 13 deliveries.
Despite Ahmad's lethal performance, his idol Rashid Khan appeared uncharacteristically subdued. Initially, Rahane and Dube specifically targeted him, aiming to disrupt his rhythm. The consecutive sixes struck off the last two deliveries of his third over completely changed the dynamics of the game. What was once a target of 51 runs off 20 balls for CSK was now reduced to a more manageable 39 runs off 18 balls. Following an impactful cameo of 19 runs in just eight deliveries, CSK appeared to be on the verge of clinching their fifth title.
However, another twist unfolded. Just when victory seemed inevitable, Mohit Sharma, who had been on the receiving end of aggressive strokes from Rayudu, bounced back and dismissed both Rayudu and the captain MS Dhoni on successive deliveries. This sudden turn of events tightened the game. A tense over by Shani brought the game down to the wire. And then came the extraordinary climax, as if it was conceived in an alternate reality.
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