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Dhoni mania as IPL heads into tense final week



(Last Updated On: May 23, 2023)

The Indian Premier League enters its playoff phase this week and Chennai Super Kings will host Gujarat Titans on Tuesday in front of a home crowd desperate to see MS Dhoni win another Indian Premier League.

A packed house is expected at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium and all eyes will be on the 41-year-old Dhoni, AFP reported.

Four-time champions Chennai host table-toppers Gujarat in the first playoff of this season’s IPL, with the winner going into Sunday’s final. The loser goes into another playoff match.

Fans have turned up in large numbers at every venue to watch Dhoni, the Chennai skipper and former India captain who is expected to retire from cricket at the end of this campaign.

He retired from national duty in 2020.

Dhoni has kept fans guessing and not explicitly said he expects to call it quits when the end of the season arrives at some point over the next week.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has reinvented himself this term as a lower-order batsman coming in at number eight.

“This is what my job is,” he said after hitting a nine-ball 20 in a late cameo to help Chennai defeat Delhi earlier this month.

“I have told them (his team) this is what I am supposed to do, don’t make me run a lot, and it has been working.”

Dhoni’s likely farewell is one of a number of subplots heading into the final week of the Twenty20 extravaganza.

Opponents Gujarat have extended their fairy tale journey from winning the crown in their debut season last year to making the play-offs once again.

“Last year we did well, everything went our way,” said skipper Hardik Pandya, who then guided Gujarat to the top of the 10-team table in the regular season this year.

“This year was a different challenge for us. We were expecting people to challenge us. The boys showed tremendous character.”

Opener Shubman Gill has led the way with his 680 runs, second only in this IPL to Faf du Plessis at Bangalore on 730, but with a chance now to grab the Orange Cap for top-scorer.

He struck his second straight ton on Sunday to play another match-winning role for a team which triumphed in 10 of their 14 group matches.

If Gujarat make the final they will again enjoy home advantage playing at the 132,000-capacity stadium in Ahmedabad.

Green justifies price tag

On Wednesday, five-time champions Mumbai Indians, led by India skipper Rohit Sharma, take on Lucknow Super Giants in another playoff.

The winner of that match will play the loser of Chennai-Gujarat on Friday for a spot in Sunday’s final at the world’s biggest cricket stadium.

Mumbai rode on Australian all-rounder Cameron Green’s maiden T20 century in a crushing win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday to sneak into the playoffs.

Green’s 47-ball 100 not out and a 56 by Rohit in Mumbai’s successful chase of 201 has suddenly made the IPL heavyweights, who last won the IPL in 2020, favorites in the knockout clash against Lucknow.

The 23-year-old Green was the second-most expensive player in IPL history when Mumbai bought him for $2.11 million in this season’s auction.


Chennai Super Kings pip Gujarat Titans in dramatic final to win fifth IPL title



(Last Updated On: May 30, 2023)

Chennai Super Kings equalled Mumbai Indians’ record of five Indian Premier League (IPL) titles after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side triumphed in a last-ball thriller, beating champions Gujarat Titans by five wickets in Monday’s rain-marred final in Ahmedabad.

Put into bat, Gujarat racked up 214-4 after their number three batter Sai Sudharsan capitalised on a strong start and smashed an incendiary 96 off 47 balls that included six sixes.

Chasing a revised target of 171 from 15 overs after a lengthy rain interruption, Chennai survived intense drama before Ravindra Jadeja sealed their victory, milking 10 runs off the last two deliveries.

The final was originally scheduled on Sunday but incessant rain forced the organisers to move the game to its reserve day.

After Chennai skipper Dhoni won the toss and elected to field, Shubman Gill walked out to bat having smashed three hundreds in his last four innings, read the report.

The opener seemed to have luck on his side too as Deepak Chahar dropped Gill, the tournament’s leading scorer, at square leg when the batter was on three.

Gill also survived a run-out chance when Jadeja could not properly gather the ball before breaking the stumps.

The left-arm spinner, however, made amends in the same over.

Jadeja lured Gill (39) out of the crease and Dhoni proved age has not dulled his reflexes as the 41-year-old whipped off the bails in a flash.

Chahar also floored a return catch from Wriddhiman Saha, who smashed 54 before falling to the seamer with Dhoni collecting the top edge, Reuters reported.

Sudharsan then tore into the Chennai attack and hit Matheesha Pathirana for back-to-back sixes in the final over of the innings to inch closer to a hundred.

Pathirana denied him the milestone but Gujarat could not be denied a 200-plus total.

Chennai’s openers faced three balls before rain forced them off the field and held up play for two hours and 20 minutes.

Chasing a revised target on return, Ruturaj Gaikwad (26) and Devon Conway (47) plundered 72 runs from the first six overs before Noor Ahmad removed both in the seventh over.

Shivam Dube, who made 32 not out, kept Chennai in the race but Mohit Sharma removed Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni in successive deliveries to inject fresh drama into the contest.

Chennai needed 13 runs from the last over from Mohit, who conceded three runs in his first four deliveries.

Needing 10 off the last two, Jadeja hit Mohit over his head for a six and followed it with a boundary to seal a thrilling victory.

“I was just trying to swing hard because every ball was important,” Jadeja said of the dramatic last over.

“I knew anything could happen, so I was trying to swing hard and hit it straight.”

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IPL: Chennai v Gujarat final, a ‘replay’ of opening match



(Last Updated On: May 27, 2023)

After nearly two months of intense action, cricket fans around the world will get to see a “rematch” of the opening game of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) when Gujarat Titans take on Chennai Super Kings in Ahmedabad.

The title match of this year’s Indian Premier League is a repeat of the opening game – a coincidence that did not surprise many.

Gujarat are the defending champions and hammered Mumbai Indians by 62 runs on Friday through Shubman Gill’s stunning 126 off 60 balls – which powered Gujarat to 233-3. 

Gill hit 10 sixes in his knock and put on a second-wicket stand of 138 with Sai Sudharsan, who made 43, to tear into the opposition attack at the world’s biggest cricket stadium.

He became the leading batsman this season with 851 runs, surpassing Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Faf du Plessis (730), before he reached his IPL best and the top score of this season.

Chennai however are near permanent residents of the play-offs and will be fighting for the trophy for the 10th time.

If Hardik Pandya’s Gujarat manage to defend their title, the franchise will establish itself as the undisputed pioneers of the tournament in just their second season.

Chennai however has a lot riding on the game and victory will not only give them their fifth crown but also provide veteran captain MS Dhoni with what many expect will be a perfect send-off. Dhoni, 41, is expected to retire after having played this year’s IPL with a serious knee injury.

IPL 2023 prize money

Over the years, the prize money for the IPL, the richest T20 league in the world, has grown substantially and the winning team this year will receive a cheque of $2.4 million. 

The runners up will get $1.5 million, third place will take $840,000 and fourth place will get $780,000.

Friday meanwhile saw the back of Mumbai Indians, who went down to Gujurat in the final playoff. 

Mumbai’s coach Mark Boucher put his team’s loss down to injuries to fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer which he said left a hole in the team. 

Boucher, in his first season with Mumbai, said the replacement players offered their best efforts but were still not good enough for a place in the final.

“If you are losing out on your quality players, yes it’s going to leave a hole,” Boucher told reporters after his team’s 62-run hammering.

“Not to put any blame on anyone, those things happen in sports, injuries happen in sports and you’ve got to deal with it.”

Boucher, regarded as one of the world’s best wicket keepers during his playing days, said Mumbai may have to replace some of the team down the line.

“Hopefully the guys can get over the injuries. If they can’t, then we’ve got to look for other places,” said Boucher.

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Afghanistan beat Lebanon 3-2 in first futsal friendly



(Last Updated On: May 26, 2023)

Afghanistan defeated Lebanon 3-2 in the first futsal friendly match in Beirut on Thursday.

Reza Hussain Pur, Ali Amiri and Farzad Mahmoodi were the goal-scorers for the Afghan team in the match.

Afghanistan’s National Futsal team arrived in Beirut on Tuesday for three friendly matches.

The next match will be played on Saturday.

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