Ravichandran Ashwin blasted an unbeaten 40 as Rajasthan Royals secured a top-two finish in the Indian Premier League with a dramatic five-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings.

Moeen Ali breezed to a 19-ball half-century as the Super Kings raced to 75-1 at the end of the powerplay, but they did not capitalise on their early impetus in Mumbai on Friday.

Spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (2-26) and Obed McCoy (2-20) were the pick of the bowlers to peg back Chennai, with MS Dhoni (26) the only other batter to pass 20 in support of Ali (93) in the Super Kings' 150-6.

Jos Buttler fell for just two to Simarjeet Singh (1-18) in response, before Sanju Samson (15) followed to Mitchell Santner (1-15) and Ali bowled Devdutt Padikkal (3) to leave the Royals 76-3 in the 12th over.

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal batted on as his partners fell, making 59 off 44 balls before being dismissed by Prashant Solanki, with Rajasthan requiring a further 47 to win from the last five overs.

Solanki soon added the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer (6) to his list of scalps, but Ashwin – promoted up the order – took charge of the chase to see his side over the line with two balls to spare.

Victory meant Rajasthan will have two chances in the playoffs to make the final on May 29. Lucknow Super Giants must settle for third place.

Ali efforts in vain

All eyes were on Buttler, who leads the run charts with 629 in this year's IPL, but it was England team-mate Ali who delivered a scintillating performance at the Brabourne Stadium.

The 34-year-old fell in the final over just seven short of a century after a tremendous 57-ball innings that included 13 fours and three sixes.

He then superbly posted figures of 1-21 with the ball from his four-over allocation – but his efforts ultimately proved in vain, with Ashwin's 40 from 23 proving decisive.

Chahal equals spin record

Chahal once again edged ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore's Wanindu Hasaranga in the battle to be the competition's top wicket-taker.

The Royals' leg-spinner picked up two wickets, while going at just 6.5 an over, and equalled Imran Tahir's tally of 26 (in 2019) for the most wickets by a spinner in a single IPL season.

Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni vowed to play for the Indian Premier League franchise next season amid speculation over his future.

Ravindra Jadeja was named Chennai skipper just before this year's tournament after the long-serving Dhoni opted to step down.

However, Dhoni was reinstated to lead the side after the Super Kings won just two of their opening eight games, in an attempt to offer Jadeja the chance to rediscover his form.

Speculation persisted whether Dhoni would retire following Chennai's final game of the season against Rajasthan Royals on Friday, but the India great has quashed those claims.

Asked whether he will play next year, Dhoni told Star Sports: "Definitely. It's a simple reason: it will be unfair to not play in Chennai and say thank you.

"Mumbai is one place, where as a team and as an individual, I have got a lot of love and affection. But it wouldn't be nice to the CSK fans.

"And also, hopefully, next year there will be an opportunity where the teams will be travelling so it will be a like thank you to all the different places where we will be playing games at different venues.

"Whether it will be my last year or not that's a big question, because you know we can't really predict something two years down the line, but definitely I'll be working hard to come back strong next year."

MS Dhoni was the only Chennai Super Kings player able to hold his head up high as their outside chance of reaching the Indian Premier League play-offs ended with a five-wicket loss to bottom side Mumbai Indians.

Dhoni took over as CSK captain once again after Ravindra Jadeja – who is sidelined with a rib injury – stepped down following just over a month in the role.

India great Dhoni led by example with an unbeaten 36 on Thursday, but the defending champions were skittled out for only 97 from 16 overs, with no other batter making more than 12.

Daniel Sams spearheaded the Indians' bowling attack with 3-16 from his four overs - two of those wickets coming in the first over.

Ishan Kishan fell cheaply as Mumbai's chase started poorly, with Mukesh Choudhary (3-23) drawing an edge and Dhoni taking the catch.

Dhoni caught his counterpart Rohit Sharma (18) from a Simarjeet Singh delivery in the fourth over, before Sams fell to Choudhary, who then sent Tristan Stubbs packing for a duck.

Yet Hrithik Shokeen and Tilak Varma steadied the ship, and although the former was bowled out by Moeen Ali, Varma's 34 not out set Mumbai well on their way, with two sixes from Tim David (16 not out) ensured the Indians got home with 31 balls to spare.

Super Kings unable to make a case for the defence

CSK had four wins from their last seven matches in the IPL prior to Thursday's meeting. However, this is the first season in which CSK have failed to register consecutive wins so far and that run rolled on as they were convincingly beaten.

With only two games to play, the defending champions have no chance of finishing in the top four.

Indians bring up 20 against CSK

Mumbai have now won 20 of their 34 IPL meetings with CSK. Indeed, the Super Kings have lost more times against the Indians than they have any other team in the competition. This was only a third win of the tournament for Mumbai.

MS Dhoni has claimed the Chennai Super Kings captaincy "burdened" Ravindra Jadeja and "affected his mind" after a period of "spoon-feeding" in a brutal assessment of his team-mate.

Long-serving CSK skipper Dhoni stepped aside on the eve of the 2022 IPL season for Jadeja to take charge.

But after a miserable start to the tournament, losing six of their first eight matches, CSK reinstated Dhoni this weekend.

That move paid off in a 13-run win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, and Dhoni has now explained why Jadeja was not cut out for the captaincy – even if he suggested the appointment was not a surprise to the all-rounder.

"I think Jadeja knew last season that he would be captaining this year," Dhoni told Star Sports.

"For the first two games, I simply oversaw his work and let him be later. After that, I insisted that he take his own decisions and bear responsibility for them.

"Once you become captain, it means a lot of demands come in. But it affected his mind as the tasks grew. I think captaincy burdened his prep and performances.

"So it was a gradual transition. Spoon-feeding doesn't really help the captain; on the field you have to take those crucial decisions and you have to take responsibility for those decisions.

"Once you become the captain, we have to take care of many things and that also includes your own game."

MS Dhoni has taken over as Chennai Super Kings captain once again after Ravindra Jadeja decided to step down.

Jadeja was named skipper just before the tournament started last month after the long-serving Dhoni opted to relinquish the captaincy.

Defending champions CSK are second-bottom of the table with only two wins from eight games.

Jadeja has taken only five wickets – three of those coming in one match against Royal Challengers Bangalore - and scored just 112 runs at an average of 22.40.

The Super Kings on Saturday announced that the India all-rounder has decided to hand over captaincy duties in order to try and rediscover his form.

A statement released by the franchise said: "Ravindra Jadeja has decided to relinquish captaincy to focus and concentrate more on his game and has requested MS Dhoni to lead CSK.

"MS Dhoni has accepted to lead CSK in the larger interest and to allow Jadeja to focus on his game."

Former India captain Dhoni led CSK from the start of the IPL in 2008 before bringing his reign to an end, guiding the franchise to four titles and losing five finals.

The 40-year-old wicketkeeper-batter lifted the trophy in Dubai last year after his side beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in the final.

MS Dhoni was the final-over hero as Chennai Super Kings kept Mumbai Indians waiting for a first Indian Premier League win with a dramatic three-wicket victory.

CSK needed 17 off the last over from Jaydev Unadkat in the battle of the bottom two to win only their second match and Dhoni delivered, hitting the four he needed off the last ball to leave the Indians shellshocked.

Mukesh Choudhary (3-19) dismissed Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan for first-over ducks after Mumbai were put in by Ravindra Jadeja at a raucous DY Patil Stadium on Thursday, but they recovered to 155-7.

Teenager Tilak Varma top scored with 51 not out off 43 balls, while Suryakumar Yadav (32) and debutant Hrithik Shokeen (25) also chipped in.

CSK dropped four catches, including Varma being given a life by Dwayne Bravo when he had scored only two, in a sloppy display in the field following such a great start.

All-rounder Bravo took 2-36 before Unadkat added a brisk unbeaten 19 and Daniel Sams dismissed Ruturaj Gaikwad with the first ball of the run chase.

Sams (4-30) also saw the back of Mitchell Santner, Shivam Dube and Ambati Rayudu, with Mumbai favourites when Chennai were 106-6 in the 16th over following Jadeja's departure for only three.

Dwaine Pretorius made 22 and the ice-cool Dhoni stepped up when CSK needed him, making 28 not out off 13 balls to leave the Indians rooted to the bottom of the table after losing all seven games.

Choudhary gives CSK dream start

Left-arm seamer Choudhary rocked Mumbai by removing both openers in the first over, with Rohit taken by Santner at mid-on off the second ball and Kishan losing his off stump.

Dewald Brevis became Choudhary's third victim off the final ball of the third over, reducing the Indians to 32-3.

CSK's fielding did not match the standard of their early bowling, captain Jadeja guilty of two of their dropped catches as they let Mumbai off the hook to an extent.

Dhoni still leading by example

He may have handed the captaincy over to Jadeja, but Dhoni showed he will always be a leader as he steered the holders home.

They needed 28 off two overs and 16 from deliveries after Unadkat trapped Pretorius leg before. 

Step forward the 40-year-old Dhoni, who clattered the left-armer for a straight six and struck the next ball for four, then scampered through for two before dispatching the last delivery into the leg side for a match-winning boundary.

Evin Lewis smashed an unbeaten half-century propel the Lucknow Super Giants to a six-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings after Dwayne Bravo became the leading wicket-taker in Indian Premier League history.

Lucknow looked set for defeat when Quinton de Kock fell for 61 in their pursuit of 211 for a maiden IPL win, but Lewis stepped up with a blistering 23-ball 55 to stun CSK.

Robin Uthappa breezed to a 25-ball half-century before he was pinned in front for 50 by Ravi Bishnoi (2-24).

Moeen Ali continued the flurry of runs with his 35 off 22 deliveries, while Shivam Dube's clean striking in his 30-ball 49 along with MS Dhoni's brisk 16 propelled Chennai to an imposing total of 210-7.

De Kock and KL Rahul (40) shared an opening stand of 99 from 10.2 overs before the India batter was caught by Ambati Rayudu off Dwaine Pretorius.

Manish Pandey (five) followed soon after to Tushar Deshpande (1-40), with Bravo taking the catch, and Lucknow's chances seemingly diminished when De Kock skied a Pretorius slower ball to Dhoni.

Bravo (1-35) surpassed Lasith Malinga as he claimed his 171st wicket in the IPL by dismissing Deepak Hooda (13), but Lewis and Ayush Badoni, who raced to 19 off 9, saw the Super Giants to an unlikely victory with three balls to spare.

 

Lewis cuts loose after De Dock fireworks 

De Kock laid the platform for Lewis' late onslaught and the West Indies batter delivered in emphatic fashion.

The 30-year-old almost single-handedly turned the game on its head, launching three sixes and hitting six fours.

Bravo for Pretorius in losing cause

Pretorius claimed the two big wickets of openers Rahul and De Kock as he took 2-31, registering the lowest economy of any Super Kings bowler (7.75).

It was a memorable day for the 38-year-old Bravo, as the former West Indies captain returned 1-35 from his four overs, but he was unable to celebrate a victory.

Kolkata Knight Riders eased to a six-wicket win in Saturday's 2022 IPL opener, with MS Dhoni unable to rescue a result for defending champions Chennai Super Kings in his first match since stepping aside as captain.

Dhoni skippered CSK to their fourth title in 2021, beating KKR in the tournament decider, before his shock decision to allow Ravindra Jadeja to lead the side this year – one of two notable changes that left the Super Kings looking a little short.

CSK first missed the steadying presence of the departed Faf du Plessis – Player of the Match in last year's final – at the top of the order and were in need of a lift from Jadeja when he arrived in the middle in the eighth over.

Instead, he had Ambati Rayudu run out and almost consigned Shivam Dube to the same fate before finally settling alongside Dhoni.

The 40-year-old still did much of the heavy lifting in their 70-run, 56-ball partnership, scoring 35 off his final 13 deliveries to reach an unbeaten 50 and allow Jadeja's (26 not out) innings-ending six to take the Super Kings to what they hoped would prove a competitive 131-5.

Ultimately, that was not enough, as 44 from KKR opener Ajinkya Rahane ensured the chase was always ahead of the game.

Three Dwayne Bravo wickets saw him draw level with Lasith Malinga's IPL record of 170, but Shreyas Iyer, KKR's own new captain, finished the job with his unbeaten 20.
 

Teething problems for first-time skipper

There were no safer pair of hands in the IPL last year than Jadeja's, as he made 13 catches – the most of any player excluding wicket-keepers. But this was a nervy bow as captain in his 201st IPL match, only looking remotely comfortable with the bat once Dhoni – walking in to huge applause – took control.

Similarly, Jadeja appeared far happier playing his natural game than making big calls in the second innings, taking a simple catch from Rahane but soon blowing a review on an lbw appeal that saw Sam Billings clearly glove the ball.

KKR's long wait for Wankhede win ended

KKR ultimately fell just short in the final, but they were happy to see the 2021 tournament shifted to the United Arab Emirates due to coronavirus. The Knight Riders had won only one of their previous six IPL matches in India.

They may well have feared this match at Wankhede Stadium then, a venue at which they had suffered eight successive defeats. However, a first KKR win here since May 2012 was secured with relative ease.

The Indian Premier League commences on Saturday with two new franchises, an alternative format and no MS Dhoni as captain for the 15th edition of the tournament.

Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans will make their IPL debuts when they lock horns at the Wankhede Stadium.

The iconic stadium in Mumbai will also stage the opening match, which will see defending champions Chennai Super Kings do battle with Kolkata Knight Riders in a repeat of last year's final.

CSK won the title for a fourth time last October, lifting the trophy in Dubai after the tournament had to be completed in the United Arab Emirates and Oman due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dhoni stepped down as skipper just two days before the opening game and Ravindra Jadeja has been charged with the task of replacing him.

Crowds will be allowed back in the four stadiums in Mumbai and Pune, with 70 league matches and four play-off showdowns to come over a 65-day period.

 

NEW FORMAT A VIRTUAL REALITY 

There will be two virtual groups based on the number of IPL titles won, followed by how many finals teams have contested.

Each side will take on their group rivals twice and also face two matches against one team from the other group. They will come up against the other teams from a different group just once.

KKR will take on five-time champions Mumbai Indians twice, as they are both in Group A, while Sunrisers Hyderabad are in Group B along with CSK.

 

SUPER GIANTS AND TITANS READY FOR THE BIG TIME

Lucknow and Gujarat will start life in the IPL with high hopes of making a big impact.

KL Rahul will lead the Super Giants side that has Andy Flower as coach. Big things will be expected of Quinton de Kock, Jason Holder and Marcus Stoinis but Mark Wood has been ruled out, so Andrew Tye was brought in as a replacement.

Hardik Pandya was appointed as Titans captain and Ashish Nehra coach. Star spinner Rashid Khan and Mohammed Shami were standout signings for Gujarat. Aaron Finch must bring fireworks at the top of the order after he was a late replacement for Jason Roy.

 

JADEJA WITH 'BIG BOOTS TO FILL'

Dhoni had led CSK since the inaugural IPL in 2008, so it was the end of an era when he stepped down on Thursday.

The 40-year-old will continue to play for the Super Kings and it is India all-rounder Jadeja who will step up to skipper the defending champions.

Jadeja said: "I'm feeling good. At the same time, I also need to fill in big boots, [Dhoni] has already set the big legacy so I need to carry [that] forward. I don't need to worry too much because he is here so whenever I have a question to ask, I'll definitely go to him.

"He'll be my go-to person. He was and still he is today, so I'm not worried too much."

 

 

FIT FOR THE KINGS?

Punjab Kings went into the auction with the biggest purse and their new recruits will be expected to deliver.

Powerful all-rounder Liam Livingstone was picked up for a whopping Rs 11.5 crore and his England team-mate Jonny Bairstow was another acquisition.

New skipper Mayank Agarwal will look to South Africa paceman Kagiso Rabada to fire a new dawn for the franchise.

Ravindra Jadeja knows he has "big boots" to fill after he replaced MS Dhoni as Chennai Super Kings captain.

It was the end of an era on Thursday as the defending champions announced that Dhoni had decided to relinquish the captaincy.

The former India captain has led CSK from the start of the IPL in 2008, guiding the franchise to four titles and losing five finals.

Dhoni lifted the trophy in Dubai last year after his side beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in the final.

The 40-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman steps down just two days before the Super Kings start the defence of their title against KKR at the Wankhede Stadium.

India all-rounder Jadeja has been charged with the task of replacing Dhoni, who will continue to play for the franchise this season and beyond, and knows he will be a hard act to follow.

Jadeja said: "I'm feeling good. At the same time, I also need to fill in big boots, [Dhoni] has already set the big legacy so I need to carry [that] forward.

"I don't need to worry too much because he is here so whenever I have a question to ask, I'll definitely go to him.

"He'll be my go-to person. He was and still he is today, so I'm not worried too much."

MS Dhoni produced an inspired final over as Chennai Super Kings defeated Delhi Capitals by four wickets in Dubai to book their place in the 2021 Indian Premier League final.

With CSK chasing 13 from the last six balls to snatch victory, the skipper hit three successive boundaries to book his side's place in the showpiece for a ninth time.

The three-time IPL winners arrived in Qualifier 1 at the Dubai International Stadium having lost each of their previous four meetings with the Capitals.

Table-toppers during the league stage, Prithvi Shaw (60) and skipper Rishabh Pant (51) led the way as the Capitals set a target of 172-5.

CSK surrendered top spot in the table after losing each of their final three matches of the regular season.

But despite losing Faf du Plessis for just one run, Ruturaj Gaikwad hit an impressive 70 from 50 balls – surpassing 600 for the season – while Robin Uthappa made further strides with a knock of 63.

It came down to the final over, which began with Moeen Ali caught out by Kagiso Rabada as Tom Curran claimed his third wicket from five deliveries.

But with Dhoni on strike, CSK did not look back; the veteran hitting three consecutive fours to send his side through to Friday's final.

The Capitals' hopes of reaching the showpiece are not over just yet as they return in Qualifier 2 on Wednesday to face the winner of Monday's eliminator between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders.


Dhoni delivers

Following Gaikwad's dismissal, Dhoni entered the action in the 19th over with his side requiring 24 from their final 11 balls.

And the 40-year-old shone on the big stage once again. On strike after Moeen was caught out, he delivered a captain's performance with three successive boundaries sealing victory with two balls remaining. 


600 up for Gaikwad

Gaikwad became only the second player to surpass 600 runs in this season’s IPL after KL Rahul of Punjab Kings.

The 24-year-old’s knock of 70 also makes him just the third CSK player to achieve the feat during a single campaign.

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