Chennai Super Kings lift their record-leveling fifth Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy as they emerged victorious in IPL 2023 final thriller against Gujarat Titans at Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Gujarat Titans posted the biggest IPL final total of 214/3 but Chennai Super Kings produced an impressive team effort to chase a revised 171-run target in 15 overs. Devon Conway top-scored with 47 off 25 to bag the Player of the Match award while Ravindra Jadeja scored winning runs to steal the show.
But it was Ajinkya Rahane who won the Striker of the Match award as he quickfired 27 off 13 with two fours and two sixes. The veteran Indian batter ended a remarkable season with 326 runs in 11 innings at a sensational strike rate of 172.48 in IPL 2023. Rahane's story in IPL 2023 has been one of the talking points this season as the veteran batter rejuvenated his sinking career in the most unexpected way.
Rahane, who will turn 35 next month, stunned everyone with a sudden change in his batting style this season. Rahane smashed 16 sixes this season, one more than his last four seasons combined. CSK's head coach Stephen Fleming explained a sharp change in Rahane's approach after the final game. The Kiwi legend said that Rahane was underperforming due to the tag of being the guy who can bat around on his head.
"My understanding is that we got rid of the tag of being the guy you bat around or bat through. I think that maybe hung over his (Rahane's) head a little bit too much and didn’t allow him to be the player that he can be. And once that tag was gone, when I turned up halfway through the pre-season training, I saw a guy who was in magnificent form," Fleming told PTI.
Fleming also revealed that Rahane was not in CSK's initial plans as the former Rajasthan Royals' skipper found no place in the playing XI for the first two games.
"He wasn't in our initial thoughts, but the game in Mumbai was really defining. It was one of our best wins in the tournament and he was the big catalyst behind it, so he cemented that No.3 spot. He has been unwavering the whole way through he's been nothing but positive, his nets have been positive.
Anytime he’s been caught on the boundary or outplaying a big shot, we’ve just reinforced how good he’s playing. So a little bit of belief and just sheer ability, he’s been a wonderful player for us this year," Fleming added.