Indian legend Dhoni leads Chennai into IPL final by toppling … – Fort McMurray Today

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s fairy-tale journey continues.

Generally considered one of the game’s greatest captains and wicket-keepers, a packed house at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium set off fireworks as he led Chennai Super Kings to victory over defending champion Gujarat Titans in a playoff.

It will be Chennai’s 10th Indian Premier League final.

The 41-year-old, who led India to its most recent World Cup victory in 2011, now has a golden opportunity to end his illustrious career by hoisting the IPL trophy at the 132,000-seat Narendra Modi Stadium next Sunday. And Chennai’s opponent could well be Hardik Pandya’s Titans, which now face the winner of Wednesday’s second eliminator between Mumbai Indians and Lucknow Super Giants.

Few expected Super Kings to dethrone the high-flying defending champion Gujarat Titans, who topped the IPL table for the second year running by 15 runs. Dhoni’s squad posted 172 for seven thanks to an inspiring opening partnership between New Zealander Devon Conway (40) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (60).

But Gujarat fought back with an impressive spell of pace bowling by Mohit Sharma (two for 31) and Mohammed Shami (two for 28). It wasn’t an imposing total, but on a pitch that was becoming increasingly difficult to bat on, Gujarat was dismissed for 157 with opening batsman Shubman Gill once again leading the way with 42 runs from 38 balls.

After Gill’s dismissal, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan hammered two sixes and three fours to give Titans a slim chance for victory. But after he was dismissed for 30 off 16 balls, the party ended with four Chennai bowlers claiming two wickets each.

Dhoni refused to shed light if this was indeed his last season.

“I don’t know, I have eight-nine months to decide,’’ he said. “The auction is in December (IPL auction). I will always come to CSK. I have been out of home from January, been practising since March, so we will see.”

The 16th season of this league that’s the envy of the sporting world for the excitement it provides and the millionaires that it churns out saw its share of nail-biting finishes over the past two months.

At least three young players announced the arrival of the next generation while veterans like Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis, Khan and Shami showed that they are a class above everyone else.

Yashasvi Jaiswal, Gill and Rinku Singh took their chances with both hands and become household names. Gill has enhanced his status as an opening bat for India and it is only a matter of time before Jaiswal and Singh are handed their first caps.

They have earned it, but selection to India’s national team is no cake walk as politics plays a huge role. Take Sanju Samson, captain of Rajasthan Royals, who should be in the national squad, but for some reason he has been given the cold shoulder.

Among the bowlers who starred this season were three leg-breakers. Rashid Khan of the Titans, Yuzvendra Chahal of Royals and Mumbai Indians’ Piyush Chawla spun their magic while the most incisive seamer was Titans’ Shami.

There were two teams loaded with talent who brought up the rear end much to the disappointment of their large number of fans. Sunrisers Hyderabad, coached by West Indies legend Brian Lara, and Delhi Capitals, coached by former Aussie ace Ricky Ponting and captained by Australian opening batsman David Warner, who blasted six half centuries.

No idea what made Hyderabad bring in Lara, who may have been one of the greatest batsmen but has little or no coaching credentials.

Now after two months of watching monstrous sixes sail into the stands and crispy shots pierce the boundary lines repetitively, the world focus turns to the traditional game – Test cricket.

First on the list is the much-anticipated clash between Australia and India at The Oval in London starting on June 17 to crown the World Test Champion, with both countries going for their first Test crown.

Then comes a five-setter between auld enemies Australia and England that has been a staple of fans of the two countries. We have already seen intense flapping of the gums by a couple of England players especially fast bowler Stuart Broad offering his two bits on how the visitors will be demolished by the new-look England with its super-charged “Bazball” approach.

Broad, one of the least-liked players on the Test circuit, was a member of the squad that was demolished 4-0 in the Ashes the previous time they met, but England has undergone a drastic transition since then with the appointment of Ben Stokes as captain and head coach Brendon McCullum.

The two have instilled a sense of fast-paced, calculatedly risky batting and a commitment to taking wickets. England’s new approach has been named “Bazball” after McCullum’s nickname.

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