Chennai Super Kings finished off the first playoff and reached their 9th IPL final, thanks to a stunner by Ruturaj Gaikwad.
CSK reached the 173-run target with four wickets in hand and two balls to spare.
Uthappa, Gaikwad remain calm
When the chips were down, 24-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad kept his calm to anchor the CSK innings.
He was awarded Player of the Match for his 50-ball 70 that guided CSK to the target.
With wickets falling from the other end, the youngster kept his nerves calm.
He rotated the strike in tricky patches of the game and waited for bad balls to punish them with boundaries.
He has now amassed a whopping 603 runs, with 400 runs alone in the UAE leg of the tournament.
While Faf du Plessis departed in the first over of the game, he did not lose the plot nor did he played freakish shots in the powerplay to make up for the pressure he was exerting.
This goes to show how Gaikwad will remain in Chennai’s long-term plans for a while.
Similarly, Robin Uthappa turned his form around after two consecutive failures.
The right-handed batter 63 off 44 to propel CSK towards the target.
Playing in place of Suresh Raina, Uthappa ensured that he justifies his selection in his first season for Chennai.
Shaw goes ballistic
Prithvi Shaw carried on his good form of the last contest into the first playoff.
The Delhi opener scored 60 at a strike rate of 176. His three maximums and seven fours worried the CSK pace cartel in the powerplay.
Though he lost Shikhar Dhawan early in the attack, but Shaw did not hesitate from making the CSK bowlers pay for bad deliveries.
After he departed, Rishabh Pant rejoiced with an unbeaten 51* to take his side to a decent total.
Chennai Super Kings 173 for 6 (Gaikwad 70, Uthappa 63*, T Curran 3-29) beat Delhi Capitals 172 for 5 (Shaw 60, Pant 51*, Hazlewood 2-29) by four wickets.
Match preview – KKR vs RCB
Royal Challengers Bangalore will meet Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday night for the eliminator.
The winner will play Delhi Capitals, who lost to Chennai Super Kings in the first playoff. The loser will be axed from the competition.
Best probable performers
Glenn Maxwell has scored 498 runs in the tournament so far.
He has hit 21 maximums, scored six half-centuries and is showing no signs of settling anytime soon.
The Australian star has adjusted to the tracks in the UAE very quickly.
He has been timing the ball well and playing the field too.
Despite playing in only his first IPL season with RCB, Maxwell seems well adjusted in Bangalore’s middle-order.
Bangalore and Kolkata won their last two games before booking a spot in the playoffs.
But RCB seem to have been more consistent throughout the competition, whereas KKR had a horrible start in the India leg of the season.
Eoin Morgan and co had to make slight adjustments to get going in the UAE, but it has been a fairly good ride for them since then.
On the other hand, Bangalore just beat in-form Delhi Capitals in the last contest.
Virat Kohli’s men must be brimming with confidence and eager to pounce on the next opposition.
Considering the current forms of both franchises, RCB seem to be the firm favourite for tomorrow’s game.