The clash between the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Gujarat Titans (GT) may not be the IPL’s El Clasico like Mumbai Indians versus CSK, but it has developed into a budding rivalry in the Indian league. The rivalry is personified by the two captains, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya. Cricket fans will recall Pandya’s international debut against Australia under Dhoni’s captaincy, where Captain Cool wholeheartedly supported the young all-rounder despite his initial struggles.
Over time, Dhoni and Pandya have grown closer, with the Pandya brothers even visiting Dhoni in Ranchi to celebrate his 39th birthday. Pandya expressed his desire to face “Mahi bhai” once again after GT’s loss to CSK in Qualifier 1, and his wish has now come true.
In their four encounters, Gujarat has emerged victorious thrice. The two teams share similarities in their approach, placing immense trust in their players and backing them wholeheartedly. Ashish Nehra, who was once part of the Chennai camp as a player, has incorporated many successful traits of the franchise as Gujarat’s head coach, yielding positive results.
As the two teams gear up for the crucial final in the 16th edition of the IPL, let’s take a closer look at the top player matchups:
#1 Shubman Gill vs Tushar Deshpande
Shubman Gill is currently in exceptional form, as demonstrated by his remarkable 129-run knock against the Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1. Tushar Deshpande has been a key wicket-taker for CSK, consistently providing breakthroughs throughout the innings. Gill will face a stern test from Deepak Chahar initially, but he must also overcome Deshpande, who possesses a knack for taking wickets despite occasionally conceding runs.
#2 Moeen Ali vs Noor Ahmad
Moeen Ali hasn’t had many opportunities to bat at length this season. However, he has the ability to dismantle spinners on his day, and GT boasts an incredible spin duo of Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad. If the situation arises during the CSK innings, the left-handed English all-rounder might be promoted higher up the order to counter Noor, given his proficiency in dispatching deliveries into the boundary. The IPL finale presents the perfect occasion for Ali to make amends and showcase his batting prowess.
#3 Devon Conway vs Mohammed Shami
Devon Conway occasionally struggles when pacers restrict his room by bowling around the wicket. Mohammed Shami has dismissed him in the past using a similar strategy, and it’s likely that the Indian pace mainstay will employ a similar approach in the final. Conway has had an impressive tournament so far, accumulating 625 runs in 15 games with six half-centuries. Shami will aim to dismiss him early in the innings to prevent him from settling in and posting a substantial score later on.