A day after their crushing defeat against Mumbai Indians, Chennai Super Kings had tweeted: “It’s not the end of the road”. They would want to believe so after being knocked out of IPL 2022, as they look to start planning for the next season with two games remaining in this one.
Super Kings and their opponents on Sunday, Gujarat Titans, are on the two extreme ends of the points table. While Super Kings, the defending champions, are placed ninth, Titans, being on top, are the only team to get into the playoffs so far.
A victory at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday will assure Titans a top-two finish, while Super Kings might want to test their bench strength.
To be fair to them, Super Kings have had a few positives. Ruturaj Gaikwad
and Devon Conway
have enjoyed success at the top in recent times, and rookie pacers Mukesh Choudhary
and Simarjeet Singh
have been promising, especially in the powerplay. Maheesh Theekshana
, in his debut season, has 12 wickets so far, the most by a fingerspinner this IPL. And Shivam Dube
, despite blowing hot and cold, has made a difference with his power-hitting.
However, there are big questions. MS Dhoni
, who took back the captaincy after Ravindra Jadeja stepped down, has said he will remain with the team in “some capacity” next season, but that may or may not be as a player. Dwayne Bravo
, at 38, isn’t getting any younger. Where does Ambati Rayudu
, who tweeted on the eve of the match – before deleting it – that this would be his last IPL
, stand? Not to forget, Super Kings will also have to find an able leader next season if Dhoni decides to step aside (again).
Testing the bench could be an option for Titans, too, after they bounced back
against Lucknow Super Giants following two losses in a row. While they have a well-rounded bowling attack, Titans brought back Matthew Wade
, who had failed at the top of the order earlier, to address their No. 3 issue and he lasted only seven balls in the previous match. Their captain Hardik Pandya
‘s form – or the lack of it – has not had a major impact on the team with David Miller
, Rahul Tewatia
and Rashid Khan
doing the finishing act. However, going into the crucial stage of the tournament, they would want Hardik to get into the groove. At least with the bat.
missed the last match and Hardik said the move was “tactical, considering the ground dynamics”. The New Zealand quick might come in place of Alzarri Joseph
or Mohammed Shami
, if Titans decide to rest him for a match or two.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 2 Devon Conway, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Robin Uthappa, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Ambati Rayudu, 7 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 8 Dwayne Bravo, 9 Simarjeet Singh, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Mukesh Choudhary.
Gujarat Titans: 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Matthew Wade, 4 Hardik Pandya (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 Rahul Tewatia, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Alzarri Joseph/Lockie Ferguson, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Sai Kishore, 11 Yash Dayal.
has been dismissed inside ten balls five times in 12 innings. His average of 22.3 against Super Kings is his poorest against a team in the IPL. Given that he has been dismissed by a fingerspinner twice this edition, Dhoni could bowl Moeen Ali
or Theekshana at the start of the innings.
Hardik averages 55 and strikes at 149 against Bravo in T20s.
Titans have hit a total of 58 sixes this season, the least by a team.
Choudhary has taken 11 wickets in the powerplay this season, the highest among all the teams.