IPL 2021: Ruturaj Gaikwad’s brilliant 88* inspires CSK to victory over MI

  • CSK were 44 for 4 at half-way mark after a horrendous start but Gaikwad rescued the side with his blistering unbeaten knock of 88 runs, along with Ravindra Jadeja (26) and Dwayne Barvo, who scored 23.
Ruturaj Gaikwad of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) celebrates.(PTI)
Ruturaj Gaikwad of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) celebrates.(PTI)
Updated on Sep 19, 2021 11:37 PM IST
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ByRutvick Mehta

Around this time last year when IPL was held in the desert, Ruturaj Gaikwad was a rare spark in a gloomy Chennai Super Kings (CSK) season. Drafted into the team for the latter half of the UAE sojourn, Gaikwad lifted their faltering campaign, raising hopes for a brighter future.

The opener from Maharashtra lived up to that hope in the first half of the 2021 season in India with 284 runs in eight outings. As the league resumes at a place where it all began for him, Gaikwad is carrying it forward.

He dropped anchor to lift the innings as CSK fought back to score a 20-run win over holders Mumbai Indians (MI) in the opening match of the second half of 2021 IPL in Dubai on Sunday. Down 24/4 in six overs, Gaikwad’s unbeaten 58-ball 88 carried his team to 156/6, a target that proved enough against MI without captain Rohit Sharma.

In his absence, Punjab’s Anmolpreet Singh was asked to open, taking over from Quinton de Kock who was trapped in front by Deepak Chahar in the third over after a three-boundary cameo. Singh took a liking to Josh Hazlewood with a four and a six over square leg followed by a creamy cover drive. In the next over, though, Chahar’s slower ball went through him to hit off-stump.

Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan couldn’t get going on a pitch described as “two-paced” by Gaikwad, and at 62/4 in 10 overs, MI were only slightly better placed than CSK.

Stand-in captain Kieron Pollard and Saurabh Tiwary swung the momentum slightly with 20 runs off the next two overs. Sensing the need to cull it, MS Dhoni turned to Hazlewood, who obliged by catching Pollard plumb in front. With half the side gone, Krunal Pandya run out in the next over and his big-hitting brother Hardik missing from the XI, MI found no way back.

For the first quarter of the game, it seemed the case for CSK. If CSK lost one wicket courtesy Trent Boult dismissing Faf du Plessis in the first over, they lost another wicket and a man in the second. Fellow Kiwi Adam Milne got Moeen Ali to hit a short and wide ball to cover and, two balls later, got Ambati Rayudu to retire hurt with a short ball that nipped back and smacked a ducking Rayudu on his left elbow. Boult needed all of two short balls to rattle Suresh Raina and induce a false shot off the subsequent full balls.

Seven for three, Dhoni in in Over No. 4: the ideal set-up for the fiery finisher turned slow starter. Just as he was getting his eye in, they lit up seeing a short ball off Milne. The placement not matching the timing, the pull shot flew straight to deep square leg.

Watching it all unravel from the other end was Gaikwad, who himself earned a life in the ninth over when de Kock dropped him off Rahul Chahar. With Pollard opting for spin from both ends, the opener shifted gears. The 12th over by Krunal fetched 18 runs and saw Gaikwad dance down for a straight six as well as reverse sweep for four.

He brought up the fifty partnership alongside Ravindra Jadeja and his own half-century off 41 balls. With the ship steadied, it was time for it to sail to the shore. Gaikwad did that against two of the world’s best death bowlers. If he picked Jasprit Bumrah’s slower one to deposit it over long-off for six, he swept Boult’s yorker for four. Bumrah also bore the brunt of the audacity when Gaikwad got down on one knee and a scooped a low full toss over square leg for another maximum. Dwayne Bravo chipped in with some lusty blows of his own as CSK added 108 off the final 54 balls, and Gaikwad 37 off his last 17.

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