Their already secure play-off berth when they take on Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League match on Sunday will take nothing less than a win to ensure high-flying Gujarat Titans a top-2 spot. Under the stellar leadership of Hardik Pandya, GT rose above expectations to book their play-off berth with two matches to spare.
GT are currently at the top of the table with 18 points from 12 matches and a win on Sunday will more or less place them in the top-2, which means they will get an extra chance to make the final.
Second-placed defending champions CSK are out of the competition and will play their remaining two matches with pride.
GT cemented their place in the play-offs after a comprehensive 62-run victory over Lucknow Super Giants, while CSK lost by five wickets against Mumbai Indians.
Young openers Shubman Gill, skipper Hardik, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha and Rahul Tewatia have been the mainstays of GT’s batting throughout the season and they will be hoping to move up the order.
The GT’s phenomenal performance in its initial season is largely attributed to its ability to fight off adversity.
But lately, GT’s batting unit has taken a beating and Hardik will be looking for some consistent performances from his batsmen.
In his last match, only Gill (63 not out) scored enough and batted during the innings to take GT to a modest 144 for 4, which he defended with ease.
The GT team management would also be hoping for a comeback between the runs from Hardik, Miller and Tewatia.
But GT’s main strength is their powerful bowling attack, which includes world-class bowlers like Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Rashid Khan.
Shami has been the team’s leading wicket-taker with 16 wickets, while Ferguson’s ability to generate pace is a concern for any batting order.
Rashid has also got his mojo back after a slow start, picking up four wickets in the previous match and when he is on song, he can break any batting order.
Yash Dayal has also been between the wickets but his economy is a cause for concern, while R Sai Kishore has complemented Rashid perfectly in his first game.
The key recipe for GT’s success is Hardik, who relishes the responsibility of captaincy.
Meanwhile, CSK have faced a nightmare with nothing working for them from the start.
MS Dhoni’s decision to hand over the captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja backfired as the all-rounder never looked within his comfort zone with responsibility, forcing him to return the captaincy to the talismanic wicket-keeper.
If that wasn’t enough, there were rumors about a tussle between CSK and Jadeja, who was released from the camp ahead of his last match due to a rib injury.
Devon Conway has done well with the bat in limited opportunities for CSK, while Shivam Dube and Ruturaj Gaikwad look to prove a point.
If batting was a problem, CSK’s bowling unit lacks quality in the absence of Deepak Chahar and Adam Milne. Mukesh Choudhary and Simranjit Singh have been impressive but lack quality with the new ball, while Moeen Ali and Mahesh Thekshana will need to share the responsibility in the spin department.
Teams (from): Gujarat Titans: Hardik Pandya (C), Abhinav Manohar, David Miller, Gurkeerat Singh, B Sai Sudarshan, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Matthew Wade, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Wriddhiman Saha, Alzarri Joseph, Darshan Nalkande , Lockie Ferguson, Mohammed Shami, Noor Ahmed, Pradeep Sangwan, Rashid Khan, Ravi Srinivasan, Sai Kishore, Varun Aaron, Yash Dayal.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (Captain), Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayudu, Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner, Chris Jordan, Adam Milne, Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Dwayne Pretorius, Mahesh Thekshana, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Tushar Deshpande, KM Asif, C Hari Nishant, N Jagadishan, Subhranshu Senapati, K Bhagat Verma, Prashant Solanki, Simarjit Singh, Mukesh Chaudhary.
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