The weather may have been fickle with a summer night yielding rain but there was no mistaking the inevitable air around Chennai Super Kings (CSK) lifting the Indian Premier League (IPL) Trophy on a Monday night that spilled over to Tuesday. At Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, CSK pulled off a last-over heist against defending champion Gujarat Titans with Ravindra Jadeja thumping the winning runs in a final that was spread over three days. Sunday was a washout and on Monday, the rains intervened and delayed the climax into the early hours of Tuesday. What stood regal was CSK’s composure, a trait imbibed from its eternal skipper M.S. Dhoni, who also hinted that he may have one more IPL stint. It was apt that CSK, the most consistent unit in IPL’s history, took on the Titans, the most promising among younger teams, and the summit clash had all the thrills associated with T20 cricket. CSK prised out Shubman Gill for 39 with Dhoni’s lightning stumping delivering the fatal blow, but once Sai Sudharsan hammered a 96 — the player hails from Chennai — the Titans finished with 214 for four. The target was revised to 171 following a rain-break but CSK proved equal to the task (even though Dhoni fell for a duck) as Jadeja’s long-handle did the trick.
It also marked the culmination of a long-drawn tournament with 10 squads. That CSK and Mumbai Indians from the old guard, and Titans and Lucknow Super Giants, last year’s debutants, made it to the last four was a reflection of their innate strength. Mumbai Indians had a slow campaign to begin with before finding a second wind while CSK was always in the frame for a play-offs berth. Among the rest, Royal Challengers Bangalore again faltered leaving star-batter Virat Kohli yearning for an elusive IPL title. If Gill (890 runs) proved that he will be the successor to Kohli and Rohit Sharma in white-ball cricket, veterans like Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha and Mohit Sharma also proved adept in the T20 format. Hardik Pandya led Titans well and with a bit of luck may have retained the title. That a Sinhalese pacer Matheesha Pathirana found incredible support within the CSK dugout and the fans at large is a testimony to sport’s ability to heal old fissures. At the same time the absence of Pakistani cricketers also reflects the influence of politics on sport. The dust may have settled on the IPL but there is no respite for the Indian stars as they prepare for the World Test Championship final against Australia at London’s Oval from June 7.