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Match Analysis

Jadeja finally gets his Chepauk (yel)love

Generally overshadowed by Dhoni-mania this season, he reminded the fans on Tuesday why he is a superstar in his own right

Deivarayan Muthu
24-May-2023
Remember me? Ravindra Jadeja made 22 in 16 to help CSK to a competitive total  •  Associated Press

Remember me? Ravindra Jadeja made 22 in 16 to help CSK to a competitive total  •  Associated Press

"I keep hearing chants of Mahi (MS Dhoni) bhai. If I bat higher, then the crowd will wait for me to get out."
This was Ravindra Jadeja after winning the Player-of-the-Match award against Delhi Capitals at Chepauk earlier this month. His work often gets overshadowed, and others profit from it. Like the Chepauk DJ, who cued up Mannipaaya (Will you forgive me?) from actor Silambarasan TR's movie Vinnaithandi Varuvaayaa in CSK's next game at Chepauk, against Kolkata Knight Riders, when Jadeja walked out to bat. Chepauk thought it was clever and laughed.
Over the season, Dhoni has elicited iconic numbers of superstar Rajinikanth, for his entry to the crease, which have gone viral on social media. Even away from Chepauk, CSK's fans have given Jadeja the cold shoulder. For instance, in the reverse fixture against Capitals in Delhi, the crowd screamed: "Single! Single! Single!" because they were desperate to see Dhoni take the strike.
In the first qualifier against defending champions Gujarat Titans on Tuesday, Jadeja had the Chepauk crowd chanting his name for the first time this IPL. His 16-ball 22 and 2 for 18 in four overs, including the vital wicket of David Miller, helped put CSK in their tenth IPL final. Nearly two months after joining CSK in Chennai, Jadeja finally got some yellove from the fans.
When Jadeja had walked out to bat, ahead of Dhoni, there was a sense of restlessness among the Chennai crowd once again. They had turned up to see their Thala smash sixes in what might be his last game in the city. Dhoni fell for 1, but Jadeja roused the crowd when he manufactured swinging room and carted Mohit Sharma's 101kph slower ball over extra-cover. The crowd was right behind Jadeja once again when he whipped a full toss from Mohammed Shami over midwicket for four more in the last over of CSK's innings.
Earlier this season, Jadeja's wicket was celebrated by Chepauk because it would bring Dhoni to the crease. On Tuesday, they sent Jadeja off with generous applause.
Jadeja wasn't done yet. He produced his most telling contribution with the ball on a helpful surface to put Titans' chase of 173 beyond their reach. He let it rip by extracting quick turn and relentlessly attacking the stumps. Dasun Shanaka aimed to manufacture a reverse sweep from the stumps, but Jadeja found a hint of extra bounce to have him splicing it to short third.
Titans tried to counter Jadeja by promoting the left-handed David Miller ahead of Vijay Shankar. Operating from left-arm around the wicket, Jadeja threatened to zip one across Miller but the ball turned in sharply against the angle at high pace and knocked him over. Even the usually poker-faced Dhoni put his hand up and celebrated that crackerjack delivery from Jadeja.
Jadeja has struggled against left-handers in the past, and more recently in CSK's first home game of the season, Dhoni had to hide him from Nicholas Pooran. Jadeja has improved so much against left-handers that his dismissal of Miller was his eighth wicket of a left-hander this IPL, doubling his previous best in a season.
"GT are a fantastic team and more often than not they are the ones who have chased, and they have chased very well," Dhoni said after CSK sealed their place in the final. "So, this game, we thought maybe let's try to get them in. It is a good toss to lose. There was a bit of dew in the last few overs, the ball started coming slightly better, but the way it turned in the middle for half an hour or something... and Jaddu, if he gets the conditions that help, then it is very difficult to hit. His bowling at that point of time really changed the game. Not to forget the few runs partnership between him and Moeen [Ali]. On a slower wicket, every run is important."
At his post-match press conference, Ruturaj Gaikwad suggested that 160 was a par score on this tricky track. CSK ended up with 12 more, thanks to Jadeja. They ended up defending it, thanks to Jadeja.
In the first season of the IPL, Jadeja proved himself to be a rock star to Shane Warne at Rajasthan Royals. Fifteen years later, he reminded Chepauk that he's still a rock star. He is now just one step away from becoming an IPL champion once again, this time in his home state - Gujarat.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo