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    Written by Nick Knight

    IPL 2023 Playoffs Preview: Chennai favourites at home as adapting to conditions will key for visiting teams

    May 23, 2023

    Gujarat Titans vs Chennai Super Kings: Qualifier 1

    Gujarat Titans have been the best side in the Indian Premier League 2023 so far. There is a huge selfbelief in this team, which is reflective in their performance. They are very strong in all key areas. With an opening batter like Shubman Gill, opening bowler Mohammed Shami, star spinner Rashid Khan in the middle overs and sharp captain in Hardik Pandya, GT have their bases covered. They have also got batting depth with David Miller and Rahul Tewatia.

    In the Qualifier vs Chennai Super Kings, I believe they should either go with Alzarri Joseph or Joshua Little as the overseas player. They played Dasun Shanaka in their last match but their better option is to play either Joseph or Little. One of the other less-talked about strengths of GT is their Indian playersheavy top-order. With Indians in top-order, it helps a lot for the team to understand the different conditions across all the the IPL grounds because these batters have batted on those pitches before. The teams who have done well this season, barring Royal Challengers Bangalore, all have had top-order which has more Indian batters.

    Gill has been outstanding this IPL. It will be interesting to see how Chennai Super Kings are going to bowl at Gill. It is very hard to stop him if you bowl back of the length delivery. But because Chennai track is expected to be slow and low, pacers might be hitting the same length. The GT opener is very good at picking the short length and hitting it for four through vacant area between mid-wicket and square leg. So, it is going to be interesting to see what plans CSK bowlers have for Gill.

    While GT have many strengths, there are couple of concerns for them too. One of them is their unfit captain. They will need their skipper fully fit for the big game. Hardik is struggling a little bit on this front. He may still not bat and bowl on Tuesday and it will be interesting to see how that affects (or not) GT’s plans. The other challenge would be to adapt to the slow and low conditions of Chennai. While their pace attack has been one of their strengths, in Chennai, cutting pace on the ball will be key. They will need to find a way to adapt to the conditions quickly.

    The same conditions give Chennai a huge advantage. They know the nature of the pitch better than anyone else. They have a bowling attack that suits the surface they are playing on. They have got a solid spin-bowling unit in form of Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja and Maheesh Theekshana. The spinners know their job while playing at home.

    CSK have also got a certain Matheesha Pathirana, for the end overs, who is their X-factor bowler. What makes Pathirana hard to pick up is his unorthodox action. His slower balls are even difficult to pick up because of his action. Tushar Deshpande and Deepak Chahar have become a potent force together too. In a nutshell, CSK have a bowling attack that gets wickets with the new ball as well as control the middle overs. In that regard, CSK’s middle-over bowlers vs GT’s middle order batters will be a key matchup in the game.

    Not to forget, Chennai’s top order has been outstanding with Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway doing a great job. Conway has mastered the art of scoring boundaries in a low-risk way. He is a high quality three-format player and scores his runs in measured way. Gaikwad and he share a  good bonding and it reflects in their partnerships. The crowd is going to play a massive role too. I have a sneaking feeling that Chennai might get through in that game. Both these sides might end up getting into the final, anyway. But I see Chennai going through in that first Qualifier.

    LSG vs MI: Eliminator

    I think I have said a number of times in my previous articles about my admiration for Lucknow Super Giants. I like how they get the best out of their side. In the game vs Mumbai Indians, one advantage that Lucknow are going to have over them is their experience of playing on slow and low surfaces at home, exactly what Chennai is going to offer them in the Eliminator. On the other hand, Mumbai Indians have played most of the games at Wankhede, where there would be pace on the ball, batters enjoying the bounce on the pitch. Chennai will be exact opposite of the same.

    The top order runs have been concerning for LSG. I am backing Quinton de Kock to have a big game. He is a big match player and will be key to LSG’s success in the match.

    LSG’s spinner will come into play at Chepauk for sure. So, watch out for Krunal and Ravi Bishnoi. Stoinis scored a brilliant 89 against Mumbai in the last game. He will come into this match vs MI with good memories of the last encounter between the two sides.

    Mumbai’s biggest strength is their batting. Rohit Sharma found his touch in the last match. Cameron Green, at the top of the order, is shining through. He was not being used well while batting at No 6 or 7. I expect them to use him at the top of the order vs LSG again. In Chennai, the ball is going to become softer very quickly and the pace is going to come off the ball. MI need to use Green effectively like they did in the last game.

    I am not sure whether they will make this move but I would like to see Tilak Varma back in the playing XI. I still feel Mumbai is a better side when Varma plays. I know Nehal Wadhera has done well but for me, Varma must play.

    MI’s bowling has held up well without Jofra Archer and Jasprit Bumrah. Piyush Chawla’s renaissance has been a key factor in Mumbai’s success with the ball. Jason Behrendorff has been outstanding with the new ball, getting early wickets. MI may go with Riley Meredith in the Eliminator but I would like to see Chris Jordan in the XI, bearing in mind the conditions in Chennai. His cutters, yorkers and his all-round skills can be of huge help in Chennai. He is a real, huge asset to MI and can play a big role if picked in the Eliminator.

    About the Author

    Written by Nick Knight

    Represented England in 100 ODIs and 17 Test matches. Faced fastest ball ever recorded by Shoaib Akhtar of over 100 mph in 2003 World Cup. Worked as a broadcaster for Sky Sports Cricket since 2007 and around the world in various Franchise leagues. Absolutely love cricket..

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