The upcoming IPL season will commence in Ahmedabad with a match-up between two teams renowned for exceeding expectations: Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans. MS Dhoni will lead the Super Kings, while Hardik Pandya, who emulates Dhoni’s captaincy and batting prowess, will captain the navy blue Titans.
Although Dhoni’s future in the IPL is uncertain, a successful title defense for Hardik and the Titans may potentially result in his coronation as India’s future white-ball captain. The Super Kings will face a challenging schedule with five of their first eight games being played away from home. Additionally, their poor economy rate during the death overs last season was not addressed during the auction.
On the other hand, the Titans’ primary issue last season was their lack of a dependable anchor, which they hope to address with the arrival of Kane Williamson, who has fully recovered from his elbow injury. Williamson’s presence may enable Hardik to bat lower in the order, a position he was often forced to occupy last IPL. The Titans’ bowling attack is also fortified with the addition of Shivam Mavi and Josh Little, the first Irish player to be picked in the IPL.
Sri Lankan players Maheesh Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana will miss the Super Kings’ first three games due to their participation in a six-match white-ball series in New Zealand. Meanwhile, Devon Conway and Mitchell Santner have been released by NZC and are expected to play for the Super Kings in Theekshana’s absence throughout the IPL. Mukesh Choudhary has been replaced by Akash Singh due to a back injury that will sideline him for the entire season.
Fast bowler Sisanda Magala will also miss the early stages of the tournament as he is scheduled to represent South Africa against the Netherlands. Similarly, the Titans will be without their finisher David Miller, who will only join the franchise after the conclusion of the Netherlands ODIs on April 2.
Pitch and Conditions:
Motera features six pitches with red soil and five with black soil. During the previous IPL final and the recent T20I against New Zealand, the pitches favored seamers, with little impact from evening dew. However, rain on the eve of the IPL opener disrupted practice sessions for both teams. Fortunately, clear weather is predicted for the entirety of the match.