Watch as MS Dhoni masterfully manipulates Hardik Pandya's ego to plan the firing of the GT captain in the first IPL qualifying match.

The dismissal of GT captain Hardik Pandya was among MS Dhoni's most memorable stratagems, and it was a key factor in CSK's victory over GT.
Watch as MS Dhoni masterfully manipulates Hardik Pandya's ego to plan the firing of the GT captain in the first IPL qualifying match.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who were ninth in the standings last year, came back spectacularly in IPL 2023 to advance to their tenth final. Given their problems following Ruturaj Gaikwad's departure, CSK's final score of 172 did not seem like a good one, but it ultimately proved to be sufficient. The spinners used their skill from both ends to choke the Gujarat Titans as the pitch slowed down, taking four wickets between them in the middle overs for just 46 runs. The only batters to offer some resistance to the CSK attack were Shubman Gill and Rashid Khan, but it wasn't enough, and the defending champions lost by a score of 15 runs.

But MS Dhoni's brilliant decisions about bowling substitutions and fielding arrangements were significantly responsible for CSK's victory. One of such hints was amply demonstrated by the way he set up Gujarat Titans skipper in the sixth over.

Before changing his strategy, Dhoni bowled the first five overs with his pacers. On the sixth over, he added Maheesh Theekshana to the attack. The spinner delivered a length delivery around off in the fourth ball, forcing the batter to turn and cut it to Moeen Ali in front of square. Hardik didn't end his strike. Jadeja was then summoned by Dhoni from backward square and placed at backward point.

Chepauk becomes numb after MS Dhoni's shocking early dismissal in IPL Qualifier 1 and Hardik Pandya's lack of celebration
Theekshana bowled on the fourth-stump line after slightly readjusting his length. Hardik attempted to clear a path and pushed past the infield, but he was unable to ascend. The ball went precisely where Jadeja was moved since he acquired a rather thick edge. He successfully caught the ball to arrange Hardik's exit for just 8 off 7.

In the commentary box following that dismissal, former India head coach Ravi Shastri praised Dhoni's field placement and said, "He played with Hardik's ego there."

Dhoni stated that he wanted to bowl first as well after losing the toss because Gujarat Titans are skilled at chasing. However at Chepauk, CSK's dominance was so overwhelming that even GT's incredible record was broken as they suffered their fourth defeat in a run chase in 18 similar situations over the previous two seasons. Sadly, three of those losses occurred in 2023.But, the Hardik Pandya-led team is still in the title chase. They will have another opportunity to defeat CSK and advance to the finals. In Qualification 2, GT will take on the victor of the contest between LSG and MI in the Elimination round.