Dhoni finish, Gaikwad, Uthappa fifties power CSK to ninth IPL final

In IPL 2020, Chennai Super Kings was the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs race. Nearly 12 months later, M.S. Dhoni's men have completed a remarkable turnaround to become the first side to reach the IPL 2021 final.

M.S. Dhoni hit the winning runs as Chennai Super Kings reached its ninth IPL final.   -  SPORTZPICS

In IPL 2020, Chennai Super Kings was the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs race. Nearly 12 months later, M.S. Dhoni's men have completed a remarkable turnaround to become the first side to reach the IPL 2021 final, their ninth overall. The Super Kings know how to win big matches as they showed with a four-wicket win against Delhi Capitals in Sunday's IPL Qualifier 1 in Dubai.

With 24 needed from 12, Avesh Khan bowled the 19th over and got Ruturaj Gaikwad out for 70 off his first ball. Dhoni came ahead of Ravindra Jadeja and with Moeen Ali, took 11 off the 19th over to make it 13 off 6. Rishabh Pant turned to Tom Curran — Rabada had an over left —  for the final over. Curran got Moeen out off his first ball, but couldn't deny the timeless finisher, Dhoni, who sealed the chase with three fours and two balls to spare.

CSK's run-chase got off to a rocky start when Faf du Plessis was clean bowled by Anrich Nortje. But his departure didn't affect the tempo as Ruturaj Gaikwad and Robin Uthappa — promoted ahead of Moeen — put on some breathtaking strokeplay. Uthappa struck two fours and as many sixes off Avesh Khan as CSK cruised to 59 for 1 at the end of the PowerPlay.

As it happened| CSK vs DC HIGHLIGHTS, IPL 2021, Qualifier 1: Dhoni cameo powers Chennai to IPL final, beats Delhi by four wickets

Uthappa reached his fifth in the 10th over, off 35 balls and then brought up the century stand in the 13th over. He holed out for 63 to Shreyas Iyer. Thakur, promoted to No. 4, fell in the same over. And when Ambati Rayudu was run-out in the next over, CSK had lost 3 wickets for just 6 runs. DC conceded just one boundary each in the 16th and 17th overs to mount the pressure. But then it ran into Dhoni.

Earlier, Chennai won the toss and inserted Delhi. Prihvi Shaw began in streaky fashion, top-edging Josh Hazlewood for two boundaries in the second over. He then took 16 off Deepak Chahar's second over with four fours.

A square punch through point stood out. DC had raced to 36 when Hazlewood had Dhawan caught behind. That did not deter Shaw, who collected 13 off Thakur's first over. Shaw got a reprieve on 42 when Dhoni dropped him. Hazlewood, meanwhile, picked up his second when he removed Shreyas Iyer.

With Capitals 51/2 after six overs, Axar was promoted to No. 4. But the move backfired as Axar fell for an 11-ball 10 off off-spinner Moeen. Against DC, a side with a clutch of left-handed batters, Moeen bowled his full quota for 27 runs.

Meanwhile, Shaw brought up his fifty in 27 balls before Ravindra Jadeja snapped him up for 60 off 34. Pant and Hetmyer bided time before upping the ante. Hetmyer and Pant collected 13 and 12 off the 17th and 18th overs, respectively. Bravo removed Hetmyer for 37 to end an 83-run fifth-wicket stand. Pant finished unbeaten on 51.

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