If Chennai Super Kings is Indian Premier League royalty, Gujarat Titans is the talented and ambitious prince eager to burnish its credentials.
On Friday at the Narendra Modi Stadium, the four-time winner will take on the defending champion in one of the tournament’s newest and fascinating rivalries.
For CSK, a confident start is of paramount importance to banish the memories from last year when it finished ninth out of 10 teams. For the Titans, it will be its first brush with handling high expectations, for it is no longer the hunter but the hunted.
A fit and firing Ravindra Jadeja is a big plus for the M.S .Dhoni-led CSK, and with the captaincy fiasco of the previous season behind him, the all-rounder will be eager to show his real worth in all three departments.
The addition of Ben Stokes gives the side a cutting edge and the Englishman, who has so far not really set the tournament on fire, will be eager to leave a mark.
But CSK will have to do without left-arm pacer Mukesh Choudhary – one of the team’s better bowlers in a disappointing IPL 2022 – who has been ruled out because of a back injury.
For the Titans, South African David Miller, a standout player last year, will miss the tournament opener as he is playing the ODI series against the Netherlands.
But Titans is a star-studded team, well serviced by Hardik Pandya’s mature captaincy, Shubman Gill’s brilliance and Kane Williamson’s intelligence and guile.
On Thursday evening, heavens opened for a brief while, cutting short the teams’ practice but bringing some much-needed relief from the discomforting humidity. Friday, though, looks clear, as the IPL is set to embrace an all-new world with most of the old comforts firmly intact.
“We are under no illusions about what lies ahead... there are challenges as far as travel is concerned and we are playing in front of a home crowd, which I will describe as an opportunity. ”Vikram SolankiGujarat Titans Director of Cricket
“Every individual is improving, bowlers are coming out with different deliveries. New rules are coming up and I am not sure how it’s going to look. But cricket needs to change and we want to see improvement. So we are really excited and looking forward.”Ajinkya Rahane on the evolution of IPL through the last 15 years