Seasoned batter Ajinkya Rahane made the most of the opportunity that came his way as he blasted a 27-ball 61 as Chennai Super Kings thrashed Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in Match 12 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 at the Wankhede Stadium, here on Saturday.

Rahane, who was roped in by CSK for his base price of Rs 50 lakh, came into the side as England Test captain Ben Stokes pulled out with an injury. He was surprised by his skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who sent him up the order after Devon Conway was out for zero in the first over.

He blasted the fastest half-century of IPL 2023 off 19 deliveries and put CSK on road to victory in their chase of a modest target of 158. Ruturaj Gaikwad played a patient knock of 40 not out, batting through the innings while Rahane went for his shots, scoring 61 off 27 deliveries as CSK reached 159/3 in 18.1 overs after their bowlers had done a brilliant job to restrict Mumbai Indians to 157/8 in their 20 overs after Dhoni had won the toss and asked Mumbai Indians to bat first.

In their chase of a modest target, Chennai Super Kings suffered an early setback when opener Devon Conway fell for a duck, bowled inside edging onto his stumps as he pushed at a back-of-length delivery from Jason Behrendorff, the Aussie pacer claiming the New Zealand batter off the fourth delivery of his first over.

Dhoni pulled a rabbit out of his hat as he sent Rahane to bat and the India Test stalwart did not disappoint his skipper. He launched Behrendorff over the rope with a superb pull shot as the Aussie pacer erred in length and then meted out the same treatment to Arshad Khan, who went down the leg side with a full-length delivery.

The 34-year-old Rahane feasted on Arshad Khan's bowling in the fourth over. After hitting the six, he cut a wide one through point, tapped the next delivery to the boundary past the third man and then scorched another cut shot past cover for three successive fours off Arshad Khan. And when Arshad came around the wicket for the last two deliveries of that eventful over, Rahne straight-drove him for the fifth boundary of the over (4 fours and 1 six). He ended the over with a single for 23 runs.

In the next over, Rahane smacked a pull off his hips for a six off Cameron Green and reached the fastest fifty of IPL 2023 by hammering Piyush Chawla for boundaries off successive deliveries. He struck Chawla for his seventh boundary of the night before lofting the seasoned leg-break bowler straight to Suryakumar Yadav, completing the shot with the bottom part of his bat as the ball came in a bit slow.

Rahane's 61-run knock came off 27 balls and put CSK on course to victory as he and Ruturaj Gaikwad added 81 runs for the second wicket stand. Thanks to his blitzkrieg, CSK scored 68/1 in the Power-play and were 97/2 at the halfway stage. Mumbai Indians were 84/5 after 10 overs.

While Rahane was out, Gaikwad continued to hold the fort as he played patient innings. He and Shivam Dube (28) added 43 runs for the third wicket. Gaikwad (40 not out) and Ambati Rayudu (20 not out), coming in as the Impact Player, guided the four-time champions to a seven-wicket victory with 11 balls to spare, raising 34 runs off 18 balls for the unfinished fourth wicket partnership.

Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 157/8 in 20 overs (Ishan Kishan 32, Tim David 31; Ravindra Jadeja 3-20, Mitchell Santner 2-28, Tushar Deshpande 2-31) lost to Chennai Super Kings 159/3 in 18.1 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 61, Ruturaj Gaikwad 40 not out; Jason Behrendorff 1-24) by 7 wickets.