Mumbai Indians had the home advantage, but it was Ajinkya Rahane’s return to his hometown, in the Chennai Super Kings yellow, that turned out to be decisive during the most sought-after Indian Premier League clash of the season.
HIGHLIGHTS: Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings IPL 2023
Making his debut for the side, Rahane’s 27-ball 61 meant the Super Kings strolled to the 158-run target at the Wankhede Stadium against its arch-rival. Rahane’s innings, which saw him register a 19-ball fifty, the fastest of the season, also ensured that Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner’s effective work with the ball in the first essay did not go to waste.
Once Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali were ruled out of the game, the Super Kings fielded Rahane at the top of the order. And the veteran batter had to take guard in the opening over of the chase, after Devon Conway played Jason Behrendorff on to the stumps off the fourth ball.
When Rahane pulled Behrendorff for a six in the third over, his intentions were clear. But it was in the next over when he went after rookie left-arm pacer Mohammed Arshad Khan that Rahane well and truly underlined his new avatar.
In an over that saw him plundering 23 runs off Arshad, Rahane virtually closed the door on MI. None of five consecutive boundaries – a six followed by four fours – was a slog, with the last punch past the bowler taking the cake.
After Rahane was caught in the deep off leggie Piyush Chawla, Ruturaj Gaikwad came to the party as the Super Kings crossed the target with 11 balls to spare.
The win was set up by the left-arm spin duo of Jadeja and Santner whose combined figures of 8-0-48-5 ensured that Mumbai Indians couldn’t run away with the game after a brisk start by Ishan Kishan.
With Moeen unavailable and Deepak Chahar limping off the field after the opening over, the onus was on the experienced spin duo to deliver. And they did it to perfection, with Jadeja playing the star act.