Devon Conway hit 87 while Ruturaj Gaikwad slammed 79 and shared a huge 141-run opening partnership in setting the base for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) becoming the second team to qualify for IPL 2023 Playoffs after thrashing a listless Delhi Capitals by 77 runs at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Saturday.
After fireworks from Conway and Gaikwad, followed by cameos from Shivam Dube and Ravindra Jadeja propelled Chennai to a massive 223/3 on what was called a sluggish pitch, the M.S. Dhoni-led side took three wickets in Power-play and made strikes regularly to restrict Delhi to 146/9, despite David Warner waging a lone battle with a fighting 86.
Gaikwad produced a stunning exhibition of back-foot shots in hitting three fours and seven sixes in his 50-ball knock while Conway was pristine in his strokeplay during his 52-ball innings to hit 11 fours and three sixes as Chennai unleashed carnage on an off-colour Delhi bowling line-up.
On a hot afternoon, Delhi’s pacers and spinners are being taken to the cleaners constantly on going too full or short in their lengths. Such was the effect of the carnage that Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel didn’t complete their full quota of overs, as Chennai outplayed Delhi comprehensively in every department in front of a vociferous crowd sporting yellow jerseys in heaps.
Electing to bat first, Chennai began aggressively with Gaikwad whipping nicely for fours off Khaleel Ahmed and Lalit Yadav. Devon Conway brought up 1000th six of the tournament by dancing down the pitch to drive over Lalit Yadav’s head into the sightscreen. Conway then feasted on full and short balls from Khaleel to pick fours via flick and slash in the third over.
Despite the introduction of Axar and Anrich Nortje, there was no stopping Chennai as Gaikwad lofted off the former for a six over cover while Conway pulled off his wrists and brought out a drive presenting the full face of the bat off the tearaway pacer for back-to-back fours as 50 runs came in just five overs.
Gaikwad’s brilliance on the backfoot continued when he pulled Kuldeep in the seventh over and broke a lull of three boundary-less overs by rocking back twice to hit sixes off Axar, before getting his fifty in 37 balls.
After Conway whipped and pulled off Sakariya for back-to-back fours in the eleventh over, Gaikwad smacked a hat-trick of sixes off Kuldeep’s fuller balls in the next over. A clean loft over long-off was followed by clearing wide long-on and bowler’s head with immaculate ease.
Gaikwad’s sterling run continued when he used Nortje’s pace to pull over fine-leg for six, followed by Conway hitting a maximum by effortlessly whipping a delivery from Khaleel to reach his fifty in 33 balls, before pulling again off the pacer for four more in the 14th over.
After Gaikwad miscued to deep square leg off a slower ball from Sakariya, Conway marched forward by upper-cutting off him and thumping Lalit over his head for a brace of fours.
Dube joined the party by smashing Lalit down the ground for six before Conway chipped off the backfoot to hit a four between long-on and long-off. The New Zealander got an outside edge off Nortje for four and followed it up with a sizzling short-arm jab for six.
Dube’s fruitful promotion to three continued when his mistimed swing still cleared deep mid-wicket off Khaleel and cleanly swung over the bowler’s head for a brace of sixes, before he and Conway holed out in quick succession.
Jadeja brought up Chennai’s 200 by smashing Nortje over long-on for six and steered one past backward point for four more. Jadeja flicked and swiped off Sakariya for back-to-back fours in the final over yielding 16 runs, despite Dhoni not hitting a boundary.
In such a tall chase, Delhi needed big runs from the word go but didn’t get it. Prithvi Shaw mistimed his loft to mid-off, off Tushar Deshpande while Deepak Chahar had Phil Salt chipping straight to cover and Rilee Rossouw chopping onto his stumps off consecutive deliveries as Delhi were in tatters at 26/3 in 4.5 overs.
But Warner waged a lone battle, smashing boundaries off Deshpande and Chahar with ease, before ending the Power-play with a pulled six off Maheesh Theekshana. The Delhi skipper hoicked Jadeja for six, before taking boundaries off him and Theekshana to reach his fifty in 32 balls, despite losing Yash Dhull, who miscued to backward point off the left-arm spinner.
Axar Patel drove Matheesha Pathirana for four and hit a straight six down the ground off Jadeja. Warner punched and hoicked Jadeja for a four and six, before reverse-sweeping off him for another maximum in the 13th over, which yielded 23 runs.
Chahar provided the breakthrough by having Axar hole out to long-on. Aman Khan mistimed one to extra cover off Pathirana, while Warner fell after holing out to long-on off Pathirana, followed by Theekshana taking two more wickets, adding more joy to Chennai’s perfect day on the field.
Chennai Super Kings 223/3 in 20 overs (Devon Conway 87, Ruturaj Gaikwad 79; Chetan Sakariya 1-36) beat Delhi Capitals 146/9 in 20 overs (David Warner 86; Deepak Chahar 3-22, Maheesh Theekshana 2-23) by 77 runs