Guwahati: Chennai Super Kings clinched their fourth Indian Premier League (IPL) title, beating Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in the 2021 final at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday. It was a fairytale comeback for MS Dhoni and his team, having failed to qualify for the playoffs — for the first time ever — after finishing seventh last season. Powered by a brilliant knock from Faf du Plessis, CSK posted 192 for three. Despite a few lucky reprieves, KKR managed 165/9 in their 20 overs, falling well short of the target. Shardul Thakur was the man with the golden arm for CSK again, striking twice in an over to start the downfall for the Kolkata outfit.
Shardul ended up with three wickets while Ravindra Jadeja, who came under attack from Venkatesh Iyer, also took two wickets in an over to send CSK on their way. Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood too was brilliant on the day, taking 2 wickets for just 29 runs off his four overs.
KKR’s chase got off to a fortunate start with MS Dhoni inexplicably dropping a sitter in the second over to give Venkatesh Iyer, who at the time was on zero, a lifeline. Iyer didn’t need any second chances as he went about smacking the CSK bowlers to all parts of the ground.
Shubman Gill too played some fine shots but was more circumspect of the two. Iyer, on the other hand, was a man on a mission. He smashed three sixes and five fours en route his half-century.
Then came one of the most bizarre moments ever seen in the IPL. Gill went for a big hit against Jadeja but ended up skying his shot but the ball hit the spidercam cable. Ambati Rayudu did exceptionally well to keep his cool and complete the catch but it was declared a dead ball by the umpires.
With Lady Luck on their side, KKR looked good to chase down the target but it all changed in the space of one over. Shardul struck in the 11th over to first remove the dangerous Iyer before Nitish Rana fell for a golden duck on the last ball of the same over.
The very next over, Sunil Narine was sent packing by Hazlewood for 2. Gill reached his half-century but fell soon after as KKR suddenly collapsed to 108 for four after being 91 for no loss.
Things only went from bad to worse for KKR as Dinesh Karthik, Shakib Al Hasan and Rahul Tripathi fell in quick succession. It all hinged on captain Eoin Morgan but the England skipper has been woefully out of form in the UAE and it showed.
Morgan stuttered to 4 off 8 balls before being packed off by Hazlewood to all but assure CSK the title. Shivam Mavi provided some late fireworks but it was just a consolation as CSK ran out comfortable winners.
Earlier, after being put into bat, CSK openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis gave their team a fine start again. The duo strung together a 61-run stand before Gaikwad was dismissed by Sunil Narine for 32 off 27 balls. Du Plessis and Robin Uthappa then got together and added 63 for the second wicket. Uthappa smashed 31 off just 15 balls as CSK pressed on the accelerator.
Despite the loss of Uthappa, Du Plessis kept at it even as Moeen Ali took some time to get started.
Once settled, the England all-rounder cut loose and cleared the boundary three times in his knock of 37 not out off 20 balls.
Du Plessis, who had reached his half-century off 35 balls, kicked on as he overtook KL Rahul to become the second highest run-getter this season, behind only his teammate Gaikwad.
In the end, Du Plessis fell on the final ball of the innings for a brilliant 86 off 59 balls.