Chennai Super Kings (CSK) beat Gujarat Titans (GT) by five wickets (DLS) method in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday, May 29. In the final that was played on the reserve day due to rain, CSK won the toss and bowled first. Sai Sudharsan smashed 96 off 47 balls as GT posted 214/4. In response, Chennai were set a revised target of 171 in 15 overs. They got home of the last ball as Ravindra Jadeja lifted CSK to a memorable win. In the wake of Chennai’s record-equaling fifth title win, we look at five reasons why Chennai were crowned Super Kings of IPL 2023.
1. Their prolific opening pair
Undoubtedly, the prolific opening pair of Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad was one of the defining factors of CSK’s IPL 2023 win. Both Conway and Gaikwad made significant contributions right through the competition. Even in the final, they made a huge contribution, adding 74 in 6.3 overs. While Conway top-scored with 47 off 25, Gaikwad chipped in with 26 off 16, laying the foundation for the win.
Overall, Conway contributed 672 runs in 16 matches, averaging 51.69 at a strike rate of 139.70. On the other hand, Gaikwad scored 590 runs at an average of 42.14 and a strike rate of 147.50. Both batters complemented each other brilliantly. On days when one batter struggled, the other took over. As a result, Chennai hardly suffered from a poor opening stand.
2. X-factor of Shivam Dube
Shivam Dube has been a much-maligned cricketer in the IPL and Indian cricket as well. Often in the past, he has failed to live up to expectations. However, all that changed in IPL 2023 as he flourished under MS Dhoni and co. Dube was given a specific role in the team: going on an all-out attack with the willow, irrespective of conditions. Dube did the same success and ended up being the X-factor for CSK in IPL 2023.
The hard-hitting left-handed batter struck 418 runs in 16 matches at an average of 38 and a strike rate of 158.33. On a number of occasions, Dube came in and changed the momentum of the match with his incredible hitting skills. Although he struggled in the final, those two consecutive sixes off Rashid Khan were invaluable in the final analysis.
3. Ajinkya Rahane 2.0
CSK were brutally trolled when they picked up Ajinkya Rahane at the auction. While the Mumbai batter had tasted success in the early years of the competition, he had been struggling for relevance over the last few seasons in the IPL. However, CSK knew something about Rahane that other franchises did not. They backed him and gave him the freedom to play an aggressive brand of cricket, for which they reaped great rewards.
While he was not as consistent as Conway, Gaikwad, and Dube, Rahane played some highly impactful knocks. His unbeaten 71 off only 29 balls against his former IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), was the best of the lot, surprising the opposition into submission. In the IPL 2023 final, Rahane also played a key cameo of 27 in 13 balls to ensure CSK did not fall way behind the net run rate, striking two overs and two sixes. Overall, Rahane contributed 326 runs in 11 innings, with his strike rate of 172.48 standing out.
4. Deepak Chahar finding form at the right time
Fitness hasn’t been pace bowling all-rounder Deepak Chahar’s best friend, at least not in the last couple of seasons. As such, there were major concerns for Chennai Super Kings when Chahar missed a few games in the first half of IPL 2023. When he returned, he looked very rusty and was hammered for 0/41 in a match against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG).
Chahar, though, lifted himself in brilliant fashion and was a different bowler in the last few matches for CSK. He picked up a rich haul of 13 wickets in Chennai’s last six games, constantly claiming big wickets. The right-arm pacer’s return to form was a massive fillip for Chennai Super Kings as he constantly struck early blows in the powerplay. In the end, he picked up 13 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 22.85 and an economy rate of 8.74. Luckily for CSK, his slip-ups in the final with the ball and on the field did not cost the team.
5.It was Dhoni’s destiny
Right from the start of IPL 2023, it seemed that the tournament was more about paying tribute to the legend of MS Dhoni than anything else. Be it at home or away; crowds thronged venues to support their hero. The affection for MSD in IPL 2023 was unmatched in comparison to previous seasons, although the crowds have always loved him. Almost everyone wanted Dhoni to win IPL, not knowing whether he would return next season. The way the tournament transpired and how CSK lifted the trophy, with Ravindra Jadeja slamming the last two balls from Mohit Sharma for six and four, respectively, seemed like destiny had written the script for Dhoni. He just had to win it, for the universe conspired for it to happen.
As losing captain Hardik Pandya humbly said at the post-match presentation after CSK’s triumph in IPL 2023, “I’m very happy for him [Dhoni]. Destiny had this written for him. If I had to lose, I don’t mind losing to him. I said last year that good things happen to good people. I think he is one of the nicest people I have met. God has been kind to me, but I think God gave him a little more today.”
The comments from Pandya perfectly sum up why IPL 2023 was all about the MS Dhoni story. It just had to happen!