Ahmedabad, May 27
Revenge will fuel Gujarat Titans’ title defence when they clash with four-time winners Chennai Super Kings in tomorrow’s IPL final here.
Gujarat, who won the title in their debut season last year, topped the group stage this season but went down to Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai in the Qualifier 1 on Tuesday.
Hardik Pandya’s men bounced back from that defeat to thrash the league’s most successful team, Mumbai Indians, in Friday’s Qualifier 2 to set up a rematch with Chennai at Gujarat’s home ground.
Gujarat also have the personnel to become the first franchise to win the league in their first two attempts.
Opener Shubman Gill, the season’s leading scorer, is in sublime form, having smashed three hundreds in his last four innings.
With 33 sixers, Gill also has the joint second-highest sixes in this IPL and Shankar said the young opener is batting at his best at the moment.
“He is able to do both — hit sixes and find the gaps in the Powerplay, which I think is his biggest strength,” teammate Vijay Shankar said.
The top three bowlers this season — Mohammed Shami, Rashid Khan and Mohit Sharma — are also from Gujarat.
While seamer Shami has been particularly impressive in the Powerplay overs, Rashid has spearheaded Gujarat’s spin attack, claiming crucial wickets at important junctures.
“When things are not going the way I like, he is someone who comes and changes momentum and makes sure we keep getting wickets,” Pandya said of the Afghan spinner. “We have spoken enough about Rashid but sometimes, I am short of words for what he does.”
Chennai will have the opportunity to match Mumbai’s five IPL titles in what could be their talismanic leader Dhoni’s final season.
Like during his time as India captain, Dhoni has brought out the best in his teammates with his inspiring leadership.
While Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad have been their leading run-scorers, Shivam Dube has transformed into Chennai’s six-hitting machine.
In the bowling department, Matheesha Pathirana and Tushar Deshpande have emerged as the death overs specialists.
“You use them in a manner where they have most chances of performing and, at the same time, groom them in the areas where they’re not very strong,” Dhoni said of his leadership approach. — Agencies