Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad was all class in his 92 off 50 balls as Chennai Super Kings posted a challenging 178 for seven against defending champions Gujarat Titans in the IPL opener in Ahmedabad on Friday.
Gaikwad regaled the near capacity crowd here with with his sublime strokeplay. It was a display of effortless hitting from Gaikwad, who relied on his lofted drives over extra cover and crisp pull shots to collect as many as eight sixes.
Apart from Gaikwad, the only other batter who put the Titans under pressure was Moeen Ali, who came up with a 17-ball 23. Ali’s flat six off Mohammad Shami on a free-hit ball was the highlight of his cameo.
Gaikwad pulled IPL debutant Joshua Little on his very first ball to set the tone of his innings. That over went for 15 runs and with Shami conceding 17 runs in the following over, CSK got the momentum they were looking for.
Titans’ trump card Rashid Khan was introduced in the powerplay and as he often does, he got the wicket that his team was looking for by getting the dangerous looking Ali caught behind.
Rashid’s second over saw him getting rid of England Test captain Ben Stokes, who too was caught by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, leaving CSK at 70 for three.
However, the fall of wickets did not make Gaikwad change his game as he kept getting the boundaries. He welcomed Alzarri Joseph into the attack by smashing him for three sixes in the eighth over.
Titans did well to stem the flow of runs in the middle overs and got the wicket of Ambati Rayudu.
Shivam Dube struggled to find the big hits and that put pressure on Gaikwad who was caught in the deep in the 17th over and missed out on a deserving hundred.
Skipper M S Dhoni came out to bat at number eight, but still managed to make an impact as he pulled Little for a six before flicking him for a four in the final over, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Kane Williamson injured his knee while fielding at the boundary and limped off the field.
The last five overs yielded 45 runs for CSK.