All-rounder Moeen Ali (4-0-26-4) did the star turn as Chennai Super Kings kept Lucknow Super Giants at bay in a high-scoring match of the 2023 IPL at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Monday night. Chasing a target of 218, LSG fell short by a mere 12 runs as they finished proceedings on 205/7. Ali was well supported by Mitchell Santner who took 1/21 in 4 overs. CSK skipper MS Dhoni crossed the 5,000-run mark in the IPL with two magnificently struck sixes. Earlier, the hosts had put up 217/7 thanks mainly to the exploits of opener Ruturaj Gaikwad, who smashed 57 (31b, 3×4, 4×6), his second half-century in two games. Spinner Ravi Bishnoi emerged the best bowler for LSG returning with figures of 3/28.

In reply, the visitors got off to a strong start putting on 79 in 5.2 overs before opener Kyle Mayers was out for a whirlwind 53 off only 22 balls to Ali. Ali, the vastly experienced English all-rounder, then went on to account for skipper KL Rahul, Krunal Pandya and Marcus Stoinis, too, ensuring CSK never lost a grip of the contest.

AB de Villiers complimented the spinner by highlighting how MS Dhoni relies on Moeen Ali’s wicket-taking ability.

“He’s always Dhoni’s first pick of man to go and pick up wickets under pressure. I thought he should’ve bowled a little earlier but MS the master and the guru, he always knows better,” said AB de Villiers on JioCinema.

Suresh Raina praised Ali’s match-winning ability. “Whenever he bowls, he keeps the ball away from the batter and Mahi bhai knows this because KL Rahul is an important player for India and an important player in the IPL who has scored 600 runs before,” he said on JioCinema.

Dhoni’s personal milestone of 5,000 runs came in for praise from Robin Uthappa.

Uthappa on the difficulty of hitting paceman Mark Wood for two sixes. “The fastest bowler in the world is bowling to him from the front and at the age of 41, don’t forget, at that age on the second delivery at a pace of 145-147 (kmh), hitting a six down the square leg isn’t easy, especially on one leg, ” said Uthappa on JioCinema.

Mayers also scored his second consecutive half-century to stay in the hunt for the Orange Cap. De Villiers spoke about Mayers’ technique, saying: “He puts his backfoot down and that is an anchor for his shots, whether backfoot or front foot. He almost flinches with his front foot a bit, just gets those toes and that gives him a great base to hit the ball anywhere in the park. When he’s standing, his head is nice and upright, the technique is there, and the strokes are magical.”

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