Gaikwad, Conway star as CSK storm into playoffs

Gaikwad, Conway star as CSK storm into playoffs

The Chennai Super Kings became the second side to secure their playoff berth in IPL 2023 with their thumping 77-run win over the Delhi Capitals on Saturday afternoon. The Men in Yellow cruised to victory against a weary Capitals side, as half-centuries from openers Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad powered CSK to 223 for 3 before Delhi managed just 146 in reply, with David Warner the only batter to offer any resistance.

CSK’s victory assures MS Dhoni’s side a top-two finish in the table, setting up an encounter with Hardik Pandya and the Gujarat Titans in the 1st Qualifier on Tuesday.

Having chosen to bat first, the Chennai openers continued their stellar partnership this season, putting up another century stand to sink the Capitals. Gaikwad and Conway laced some elegant strokes against the new ball, with the Kiwi opener going down the ground against Lalit Yadav to bring up the 1000th six of the IPL, while his partner lofted Axar Patel over covers for a maximum.

The pair added 52 runs inside the powerplay, and after a brief lull through the middle, Gaikwad stepped on the accelerator. The opener dominated the DC spinners, clubbing Axar Patel for two sixes over mid-wicket before hammering Kuldeep Yadav down the ground for three maximums in a row.

Gaikwad raced away to 79 off 50 before Chetan Sakariya broke the 141-run stand, but Conway extended his purple patch in IPL 2023, bringing up his sixth half-century of the season in 33 deliveries. The Blackcaps star went after South African speedster Anrich Nortje in the 17th over before holing out to long-on for 87, but cameos from Shivam Dube and Ravindra Jadeja furthered CSK’s advantage at the death. Dube smashed three sixes in a short nine-ball stay, while Jadeja added 22 runs from just seven deliveries, powering CSK to a towering total of 223 for 3 in 20 overs.

In response, the hosts wilted in the chase. Prithvi Shaw fell to a spectacular diving catch from Ambati Rayudu in the second over before Deepak Chahar removed Phil Salt and Rilee Rossouw in consecutive deliveries, reducing the Capitals to 26 for 3. David Warner showed some fight for Delhi, leading from the front to bring up his sixth half-century of the season. However, while the Australian opener added a boundary-laden 86, Delhi’s next-best batter was Axar Patel with just 15, a story which summed up the team’s fate in the 2023 season.

Warner kept up his counter-attack while the wickets continued to tumble around him, and the opener eventually holed out in the 19th over as DC succumbed to a heavy defeat to end their season on a sombre note.