Indian cricket superstar M.S. Dhoni said he will look to return for the next IPL season after he led Chennai Super Kings to a record-equalling fifth title over Gujarat Titans in what many believed to be his last match.
Ravindra Jadeja hit a six and four off the final two balls as Chennai chased down their revised target of 171 in 15 overs with five wickets to spare in a rain-hit final which went past 1.30 am local time Tuesday on a reserve day in Ahmedabad following a washout on Sunday.
New Zealand’s Devon Conway led the chase with his 25-ball 47 before cameos from Ajinkya Rahane (27) and Shivam Dube, who hit an unbeaten 32, set the stage for Jadeja’s heroics.
Needing 13 off the final over, Mohit Sharma bowled four good balls before Jadeja hit the winning runs to trigger wild celebrations at the world’s biggest cricket stadium.
“This is the best time to announce my retirement. But the amount of love I have received all over. The easy thing would be to walk away from here, but the harder thing would be working hard for nine months and try to play another IPL,” said the 41-year-old Dhoni.
“It would be a gift from me, won’t be easy on the body. You do get emotional, the first game at CSK everyone was chanting my name. My eyes were full of water, I needed to take some time off in the dugout.”
Chennai won the title for the fifth time to go level with Mumbai Indians.
Dhoni kept attracting huge crowds across venues this season and over 80,000 fans cheered the veteran, who had recently said he would take a call on his future later this year, in the final.
Playing his 250th IPL match, Dhoni got out for a first-ball duck as he went back to a stunned silence, but he had the last laugh in his 10th appearance in the final as Chennai captain.
– ‘Win together, lose together’ –
Ambati Rayudu also hit a key 19 off eight balls in his last match after he announced his retirement ahead of the final.
Rain forced players off the ground when Chennai were four without loss after three balls of their innings.
The downpour lasted for about 15 minutes but covers came off from one of the pitches which got damp and the groundstaff worked for over two hours to get the field ready for play.
Sai Sudharsan smashed 96 off 47 balls to guide Gujarat, a team which won the crown in their debut season last year in the T20 competition and topped the table in this edition, to 214-4.
“I think we tick a lot of boxes as a team,” said captain Hardik Pandya.
“We play with a lot of heart, really proud of the way we kept fighting. We have a motto – we win together, we lose together.”
In-form Gujarat opener Shubman Gill hit a 20-ball 39 and was named most valuable player, earning the orange cap as the leading batsman with 890 runs.
Gujarat pace spearhead Mohammed Shami got the purple cap as the leading bowler for his 28 wickets with teammates Sharma and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan one behind on 27 each.
Gill, fresh from his third century this season, was dropped on three when Deepak Chahar spilled an easy catch off fast bowler Tushar Deshpande.
The opener smashed Deshpande for three straight boundaries in the next over and kept up the attack with regular hits to the fence before Dhoni’s lightning quick glovework sent back the batsman, stumped off Jadeja.
Fellow opener Wriddhiman Saha made 54 and put on 64 runs with Sudharsan, who took charge after his partner’s departure.