Bombay: Already secured their berth for the play-offs, the high-flying Gujarat Titans would be looking for nothing less than a win to secure a top-2 finish when they take on the unimaginable Chennai Super Kings on Sunday in a Indian Premier League match here.
Under the brilliant leadership of Hardik PandyaGT exceeded expectations and booked their playoffs berth with two games in hand.
GT currently tops the table with 18 points from 12 matches and a win on Sunday will more or less secure them a place in the top-2, meaning they will have an extra chance to make it to the final.
Lying in penultimate place, defending champion CSK are out of the league and will play for pride in their remaining two games.
While GT secured their play-offs after a comprehensive 62-point win over Lucknow Super Giants, CSK slumped in a five-wicket loss to Mumbai Indians.
Young opener Shubman Gill, skipper Hardik, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha and Rahul Tewatia have been GT’s mainstays all season and they hope to continue on the same footing.
The credit for GT’s phenomenal run in their opening season goes largely to their ability to fight back from adverse situations.
But lately GT’s batting unit has failed and Hardik would be looking for consistent performance from his batters.
In their last game, only Gill (63 didn’t matter) made a substantial score and slammed through the innings to take GT to a modest 144 for 4, which they defended with ease.
GT team management also hopes Hardik, Miller and Tewatia will return between runs.
But GT’s greatest strength is their powerful bowling attack, made up of world-class bowlers such as Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Rashid Khan.
Shami, the team’s top player with 16 scalps, was lethal beforehand, while Ferguson’s ability to generate speed is a concern for any batting formation.
Rashid also has his mojo back after a slow start, scalping four wickets in the last game and when he’s on number, he can tear apart any batting formation.
Yash Dayal was also one of the wickets but his economy is a concern as R Sai Kishore complemented Rashid perfectly in his first game.
GT’s main recipe for success is a pretty toned-down Hardik, who seems to enjoy the responsibility of captaincy.
CSK, meanwhile, has endured a nightmarish season with nothing working for them from the start.
MS Dhoni’s decision to transfer the captain’s armband to Ravindra Jadeja failed because the all-rounder never looked in his comfort zone with responsibility, forcing him to return the leadership mantle to the talisman stumper.
As if that wasn’t enough, there were rumors of an altercation between CSK and Jadeja, who was released from camp before their final game due to a bruised rib.
Devon Conway batted for CSK in the limited opportunities he was presented with, while players like Shivam Dube and Ruturaj Gaikwad would be looking to prove a point.
If batting was an issue, CSK’s bowling unit lacks quality in the absence of Deepak Chahar and Adam Milne. Mukesh Chaudhary and Simranjeet Singh were impressive but lacked quality with the new ball, while Moeen Ali and Maheesh Theekshana would have to share responsibility in the spin department.
The teams (of):
Gujarat Titans: Hardik Pandya (c), Abhinav Manohar, David Miller, Gurkeerat Singh, B Sai Sudharsan, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Matthew Wade, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Wriddhiman Saha, Alzarri Joseph, Darshan Nalkande, Lockie Ferguson, Mohammed Shami, Noor Ahmad, Pradeep Sangwan, Rashid Khan, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Varun Aaron, Yash Dayal.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c), Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayadu, Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner, Chris Jordan, Adam Milne, Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Maheesh Theekshana, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Tushar Deshpande, KM Asif, C Hari Nishaanth, N Jagadeesan, Subhranshu Senapati, K Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Simarjeet Singh, Mukesh Choudhary.
Match starts at 3:30 PM.
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