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GT vs CSK: Upbeat Chennai stand in way of Gujarat Titans' second IPL crown

Updated on: 28 May,2023 08:20 AM IST  |  Ahmedabad
R Kaushik |

The summit clash between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings promises to be a run-fest given the conditions in Ahmedabad and strong batting line-ups of both sides

GT vs CSK: Upbeat Chennai stand in way of Gujarat Titans' second IPL crown

GT opener Shubman Gill (right) CSK top-order batter Ruturaj Gaikwad. Pics/PTI

It’s in the fitness of things that the two most consistent teams in the league phase will contest the final of IPL 2023, at the gargantuan Narendra Modi Stadium here on Sunday. Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings finished one and two at the end of the first stage; where Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men took the straight road to the final, the defending champions had to embark on the more scenic route that involved a Qualifier 2 shootout against Mumbai Indians on Friday.

Shubman Gill looms as the primary, but not only threat, in Chennai’s bid to equal Mumbai’s record of five titles. The elegant right-hander is in red-hot form with three hundreds and an unbeaten 94 in his last six innings, which has practically guaranteed him the Orange Cap. Such has been his dominance that even though Gujarat have three other batsmen with more than 300 runs—skipper Hardik Pandya, Wriddhiman Saha and Vijay Shankar—it’s Gill that has been the talk of the town.

Purple Cap contenders

As if Chennai don’t have to contend with his glorious form, they also must find ways of overcoming the twin threats of Purple Cap contenders Mohammed Shami, currently leading all-comers with 28 scalps, and Rashid Khan, snapping at his heels with 27. 

Then, there is Mohit Sharma, whose five for 10 on Friday catapulted him to 24 wickets in just 13 games. Given that each of them strikes at a different stage of the innings—Shami up top in the Powerplay, Rashid primarily in the middle overs and Mohit at the death—Gujarat have all bases covered and will clearly be the team to beat, especially given that the match will be at their designated home ground for the season.

Also Read: Centuries galore... will there be more on Sunday?

Chennai, the most consistent team in IPL history making their 10th appearance in the final, have shown repeatedly that they don’t care much for reputation and form. Dhoni is an acknowledged miracle-worker with the wonderful gift of getting his charges to perform above themselves, evidenced by Chennai’s rise from second-last in the league last year to second-best this season. 

He has based his team’s philosophy around aggression with the bat, with openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway leading the way, and a crack at Gujarat on what should be a belter could catalyse a run-fest. While Chennai don’t boast the bowling pedigree of their opponents, Tushar Deshpande and Sri Lankan newcomer Matheesha Pathirana have been penetrative and Ravindra Jadeja exemplary with his left-arm spin in the middle overs.  

Not the same turn on offer

Indeed, it was Jadeja who was instrumental in Chennai’s 15-run conquest of the holders at Chepauk in Qualifier 1, though he will be the first to realise that he won’t get the same purchase in the final. An outfit well rested against a unit with momentum on its side points to a battle of equals, almost. Which will be the last team standing?

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