New Delhi: IPL 2023: Devon Conway smashed 87 and Ruturaj Gaikwad 79 to set the way for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) being the second team to qualify for the IPL 2023 Playoffs after hammering a listless Delhi Capitals by 77 runs at the Arun Jaitley Stadium on Saturday.
After Conway and Gaikwad’s fireworks, followed by cameos from Shivam Dube and Ravindra Jadeja, propelled Chennai to a massive 223/3 on what was described as a sluggish pitch, the MS. 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 brilliant show of back-foot smashes in his 50-ball effort, hitting three fours and seven sixes, while Conway was flawless in his strokeplay during his 52-ball innings, striking 11 fours and three sixes as Chennai unleashed havoc on an off-colour Delhi bowling line-up.
On a scorching afternoon, Delhi’s pacers and spinners are continually being taken to the cleaners for being too full or too short in their lengths. The carnage had such an impact that Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel did not finish their entire quota of overs as Chennai outplayed Delhi convincingly in every department in front of a raucous crowd clad in yellow jerseys.
Chennai batted first and started energetically, with Gaikwad swinging brilliantly for fours against Khaleel Ahmed and Lalit Yadav. Devon Conway scored the tournament’s 1000th six by dancing down the pitch and driving over Lalit Yadav’s head onto the sightscreen. In the third over, Conway used full and short balls from Khaleel to pick fours with flick and slash.
Despite the introduction of Axar and Anrich Nortje, Chennai were unstoppable, with Gaikwad lofting off the former for a six over cover and Conway pulling off his wrists and 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 backfoot brilliance continued as he drew Kuldeep in the seventh over and broke a three-over lull by rocking back twice to strike sixes against Axar before reaching fifty in 37 balls.
Following Conway’s back-to-back fours off Sakariya in the eleventh over, Gaikwad smashed a hat-trick of sixes off Kuldeep’s fuller balls in the next over. A clean loft over long-off was followed by a flawless clearance over wide long-on and bowler’s head.
Gaikwad’s impressive run continued as he utilised Nortje’s pace to pull over fine-leg for six, followed by Conway striking a maximum by deftly flicking a delivery from Khaleel to reach fifty in 33 balls, before drawing off the pacer again for six.
Conway marched forward as Gaikwad miscued to deep square leg off a slower ball from Sakariya, upper-cutting off him and thumping Lalit over his head for a brace of fours.
Conway chipped off the backfoot to score a four between long-on and long-off before Dube joined the party by hammering Lalit down the ground for six.
Dube’s successful promotion to three continued as his mistimed swing cleared deep mid-wicket off Khaleel and soared neatly over the bowler’s head for a brace of sixes before he and Conway holed out in quick succession.
Jadeja raised Chennai’s total to 200 by hitting Nortje over long-on for six runs and guiding one beyond backward point for four more. Despite Dhoni’s failure to hit a boundary, Jadeja flicked and swiped off Sakariya for back-to-back fours in the last over, yielding 16 runs.
In such a long chase, Delhi needed huge runs right away but didn’t get them. 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.
Warner, on the other hand, fought alone, shattering boundaries off Deshpande and Chahar with ease before finishing the Power-play with a pulled six off Maheesh Theekshana.
Axar Patel hit a straight six down the ground off Jadeja after driving Matheesha Pathirana for four. In the 13th over, Warner punched and hoicked Jadeja for four and six before reverse-sweeping him for another maximum.
Chahar made the game-changing play by having Axar hole out to long-on. Aman Khan mistimed one to extra cover off Pathirana, while Warner was out after holing out to long-on off Pathirana, with Theekshana claiming two more wickets to round out Chennai’s ideal day on the pitch.
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