IPL 2023: Gaikwad, Conway, Moeen power CSK to victory in grand homecoming

Chennai, April 4 (IANS) It was a day that fans of Chennai Super Kings eagerly awaited in IPL 2023: the grand homecoming of M.S. Dhoni & Co to Chepauk after 1427. In front of a packed home crowd wearing yellow, CSK didn’t disappoint as they emerged victorious by 12 runs in a run-fest against Lucknow Super Giants on Monday night.
Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway shared a blistering 110-run opening stand while Ambati Rayudu and captain M.S. Dhoni, along with Moeen Ali and Shivam Dube, propelled CSK to reach 217/7.
In reply, Kyle Mayers had threatened to steal their thunder with a 22-ball 53.
His efforts meant Lucknow reached 73/0 in five overs. But Moeen and Santner struck as LSG slipped to 82/3 in the eighth over. Moeen, who picked 4-26, and Santner, who returned with 1-21, kept things tight to bring Chennai back into the game.
Nicholas Pooran threatened to drive Lucknow to a late win, but Tushar Deshpande took him out as the visitors ended up at 205/7, with Chennai pocketing vital two points in a high-scoring entertaining game.
Both Gaikwad (57) and Conway (47) played some outstanding shots to smash 79 runs in the Power-play, which became CSK’s highest-ever score in this phase at Chepauk. Conway got off to a flier by slamming Avesh Khan for back-to-back boundaries in the second over.
Gaikwad took over with a superb square drive off Mayers, before pulling Krunal Pandya over mid-on for a brace of boundaries. He then welcomed K Gowtham with two sixes straight down the ground; followed by a beautiful lofted inside-out six over extra cover.
Conway tore into Mark Wood with an uppish drive and pull for a brace of boundaries while Gaikwad gently flicked over deep backward square leg for six to notch up his fifty in 25 balls. Conway slammed two elegant sixes over long-on off Krunal to bring up the century of the opening partnership in eight overs.
Lucknow finally had a breakthrough in the tenth over as Gaikwad went for a drive off Ravi Bishnoi, but the leading edge flew to short third man. In the next over, Conway again went for a pull off Wood but was caught by a diving deep backward square leg.
Dube then boosted Chennai’s innings with three gigantic sixes, including a 102-metres maximum, apart from one four. But when trying to get a big shot off Bishnoi, he gave a top edge to the short third man.
Moeen gave further impetus to Chennai’s innings with a hat-trick of fours through the off-side against Avesh, before being stumped off Bishnoi. Though Ben Stokes and Ravindra Jadeja fell cheaply, Ambati Rayudu applied finishing touches by dancing down the pitch to hit a brace of sixes off Wood while sweeping off Bishnoi and slicing over leaping short third man to get two boundaries.
The crowd truly went berserk in the final over when MS Dhoni slammed back-to-back sixes off Wood — a big slash over wide third man was followed by a huge hook into the upper tier at deep square leg fence. Though Dhoni sliced to the third man and depart for 12, the crowd was treated to a short yet crisp cameo from their beloved leader which was worth their money.
In reply, Mayers welcomed Stokes with successive fours through the off-side, followed by a clean 86m six over long-off. Mayers made strokeplay look ridiculously easy, punching, pulling and driving against Deepak Chahar in the next over.
Mayers then put Tushar Deshpande under the pump, lofting over mid-off and muscling over long-on for four and six respectively as Lucknow reached their fifty. Chahar was again taken to the cleaners as Mayers and Rahul took 17 runs off the fifth over, as the former reached his fifty in 21 balls for the second time in as many matches.
But Moeen provided the breakthrough as Mayers slog-swept straight to deep mid-wicket. In the next over, Deepak Hooda couldn’t time his slog-sweep and holed out to long-on. Rahul went for slog-sweep too and picked out deep mid-wicket.
Pandya and Marcus Stoinis tried to resurrect the chase, but the former miscued the slog to long-on off Moeen while the latter saw his leg-stump being rattled by the off-spinner. Pooran kept the chase alive with a six and two fours off Rajvardhan Hangargekar.
He then flat-batted a six over extra cover off Ravindra Jadeja and followed it up by reverse-sweeping over the point for another six. Pooran’s blitz came to an end when his lofted drive was caught by long-off against Deshpande. The pacer would take out Ayush Badoni in the final over though he gave away 15 runs, but by then the match was in Chennai’s favour.
Brief scores:
Chennai Super Kings 217/7 in 20 overs (Ruturaj Gaikwad 57, Devon Conway 47; Ravi Bishnoi 3-28, Mark Wood 3-49) beat Lucknow Super Giants 205/7 in 20 overs (Kyle Mayers 53, Nicholas Pooran 32; Moeen Ali 4-26, Tushar Deshpande 2-45) by 12 runs

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