Gujarat eyes top-2 finish with win over Chennai Super Kings

Under the brilliant leadership of Hardik Pandya, Gujarat rose above expectations to book its play-offs berth with two matches in hand.
Gujarat eyes top-2 finish with win over Chennai Super Kings
Gujarat Titans’ Shubman Gill bats in the nets on the eve of the match against Chennai Super Kings

MUMBAI: Its play-offs berth already secured, high-flying Gujarat Titans would look for nothing less than a win to ensure a top-2 finish when it takes on Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League match here on Sunday.

Under the brilliant leadership of Hardik Pandya, Gujarat rose above expectations to book its play-offs berth with two matches in hand.

Gujarat is currently at the top of the table with 18 points from 12 games and a win on Sunday will more or less secure it a top-2 finish, which means it will get an extra chance of making it to the final.

Lying at the second-last spot, defending champion Chennai is out of the competition and will play for pride in its remaining two games.

While Gujarat ensured its play-offs berth after a comprehensive 62-run win over Lucknow Super Giants, Chennai slumped to a five-wicket loss against Mumbai Indians. Young opener Shubman Gill, skipper Hardik, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha and

Rahul Tewatia have been Gujarat’s batting mainstay throughout the season and they would be hoping to carry on in the same vein.

The credit for Gujarat’s phenomenal run in its opening season largely goes to its ability to fight back from adverse situations.

But of late, Gujarat’s batting unit has misfired and Hardik would be looking for some consistent performances from his batters.

In its last match, only Gill (63 not out) made a substantial score and batted through the innings to take Gujarat to a modest 144 for 4, which it defended with ease.

The Gujarat team management would also be hoping for Hardik, Miller and Tewatia to return among runs. But Gujarat’s main strength is its potent bowling attack, comprising world-class bowlers like Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson and Rashid Khan.

Shami, the team’s highest taker with 16 scalps, has been lethal upfront, while Ferguson’s ability to generate pace is a cause of concern for any batting line-up.

Rashid too has got his mojo back after a slow start, scalping four wickets in the last match and when on song, he can tear apart any batting line-up. Yash Dayal too has been among wickets but his economy is a cause of concern, while R Sai Kishore has complemented Rashid perfectly in his first game.

Gujarat’s main recipe for success has been a considerably mellowed down Hardik, who seems to be relishing the responsibility of captaincy.

Chennai, meanwhile, has endured a nightmarish season with nothing working for it from the start.

MS Dhoni’s decision to hand over captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja backfired as the all-rounder never looked in his comfort zone with the responsibility, forcing him to return the leadership mantle to the talismanic stumper. If that was not enough, there were rumours about a fallout between CSK and Jadeja, who was released from the camp before its last match due to a bruised rib.

Devon Conway has starred with the bat for Chennai in the limited chances he got, while the likes of Shivam Dube and Ruturaj Gaikwad would look to prove a point.

If batting was a problem, Chennai’s bowling unit lacks quality in the absence of Deepak Chahar and Adam Milne. Mukesh Choudhary and Simarjeet Singh have been impressive but lacked quality with the new ball, while Moeen Ali and Maheesh Theekshana would need to share the responsibility in the spin department.

Shami, the team’s highest taker with 16 scalps, has been lethal upfront, while Ferguson’s ability to generate pace is a cause of concern for any batting line-up.

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