While Chennai Super Kings (CSK) batting unit faltered in the UAE leg opener of IPL 2021, opener Ruturaj Gaikwad held his nerves against Mumbai Indians (MI) to notch up his sixth IPL fifty. The 24-year-old saved Chennai's crumbling innings, helping them cross the 150-run mark that looked remote at one point.
Gaikwad finished with an unbeaten 88 -- comprising 9 fours and 4 maximums -- and Dwayne Bravo chipped in with 23 from 8 balls, helping CSK reach 156/6 in 20 overs. Gaikwad's 88* is also the highest individual score in CSK-MI clashes to date.
"I'm very tired right now, but proud that I carried the innings for my team. My job was just to bat long at that stage (when they lost early wickets). You always have to start fresh, it's good to get off to a great start. It's a two-paced wicket and there's a bit of turn for the spinners as well," he said in the innings break.
A consistent performer for his state team Maharashtra, Gaikwad was also impressive in the first half of IPL 2021 where he had notched up two half-centuries. In the 2020 season, he had scored 204 runs in six games with the highest score of 72.
Earlier, Mumbai Indians' pace duo of Adam Milne and Trent Boult scripted Chennai's top-order collapse in Dubai as both picked two wickets each for 11 runs in three overs. Boult dismissed Faf du Plessis for a duck in the very first over before Milne removed Moeen Ali in the next over for a duck as well.
Three-time champions CSK suffered another blow as Ambati Rayudu walked off the field with a wrist injury before Boult struck again to dismiss Suresh Raina for four. Skipper MS Dhoni was the fourth batsman to depart as wounded Chennai finished with just 24 runs at the end of the Powerplay.