Chennai Super Kings tamed a tenacious Gujarat Titans by 15 runs on a sticky surface to enter their 10th IPL final here on Tuesday and extend their remarkable consistency in the tournament.
CSK did well to reach 172 for 7 on a slow pitch in Qualifier 1 after Hardik Pandya opted to bowl.
Considering the conditions, it turned out to be much more than a competitive total as Gujarat Titans had a rare off day to end with 157 all out in 20 overs. Rashid Khan made the CSK fans nervous with a 16-ball 30 towards the end but it was not enough for the Titans. However, the defending champions will got another shot to make a second successive final in Qualifier 2 on Friday.
CSK's master tactician M S Dhoni made the best use of home advantage to take the four time champions to a 10th final in 14 editions. CSK did not take part in 2016 and 2017 editions.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (4-0-18-2) did the star turn for the Super Kings with a brilliant spell during which he strangled the opposition batters to avenge the defeat suffered in the tournament opener.
Matheesha Pathirana, Maheesh Theekshana and Deepal Chahar also finished with two wickets each.
Chasing 173, GT lost Wriddhiman Saha (12) in the third over. Skipper Hardik Pandya (8) could not make much impact at number three, miscuing a cut off Theekshana for Jadeja to pouch a catch at point.
Sri Lanka's limited overs teams' captain Dasun Shanaka (17) could not get going as well and his reverse sweep off Jadeja landed in the hands of Theekshana. Jadeja made things tougher for GT by castling the dangerous David Miller (4) to leave the opposition at 88 for 4 in the 13th over. The Titans slipped further when Rahul Tewatia was bowled by Theekshana for 3.
Earlier, the Super Kings batters had a tough time on a slow pitch as they were not able to force the pace. Dhoni lasted only 2 balls for his 1 run, much to the disappointment of an adoring Chepauk crowd.
For the home team, Ruturaj Gaikwad was the best batter, scoring a superb 60 off 44 while the others could not make a substantial contribution. Pacer Mohammed Shami (2 for 28 in 4 overs) was the best bowler while Mohit Sharma (2/31) also picked up two wickets. Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmed scalped a wicket each and put pressure on the batters in the middle overs.
Gaikwad had a stroke of luck when he was caught by Shubman Gill off Darshan Nalkande only for the delivery to be declared a no-ball. He capitalised on the let-off and played some superb shots. The very next ball after he got a reprieve, he smacked a six and hit a four from the next delivery.
The in-form Gaikwad did not get bogged down against the spin of Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmed, the key bowlers for GT. He scored freely against all the bowlers and got CSK off to a brisk start with 49 being scored in the powerplay. Gaikwad appeared to slow down after having outscored his opening partner Devon Conway with whom he shared yet another half-century stand. He fell trying to force the pace, to a catch by David Miller off Mohit Sharma.
Ajinkya Rahane (17 off 10) hit one six before being Nalkande's only scalp as the scoring slowed down. Conway was not his usual fluent self and struggled with his timing all though his innings.
Ambati Rayudu (17 off 9) crossed the 6,000 IPL-run mark during the course of his cameo. The home team did well to collect 35 runs off the last three overs.