M.S. Dhoni attempts to cap his likely final season with a fifth title as Chennai Super Kings take on Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2023 season’s championship game. However, in-form Shubman Gill stands in his way.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni wouldn’t mind a “Farewell to Remember,” but a young Shubman Gill, brimming with grace, will exert every effort to stop Chennai Super Kings from defeating Gujarat Titans to claim its sixth IPL championship on Sunday.
A four-year-old Gill was taking stance on a large farmland in Punjab’s Fazilka hamlet on the Pakistan border with a homemade bespoke bat, created by his adoring grandfather, nearly 19 summers ago when a young Dhoni was making his first steps in India blue.
The soon-to-be 42-year-old Dhoni will have one more task in his favoured Canary Yellow jersey on Sunday at the 132,000-seat Narendra Modi Stadium: to halt Indian cricket’s megastar-in-waiting and give him a ‘High Five’.
What will be Dhoni’s plan to stop the “Mohali Marauder” on a big batting day at the Motera? Three hundreds and 851 runs don’t happen every season.
Will it be Ravindra Jadeja’s wicket-to-wicket bowling or Deepak Chahar’s swing? Or will it be Moeen Ali, who, with his alluring flighted deliveries outside the off-stump that may quickly break back, may be the “Joker in the Pack”? Can Matheesha Pathirana strike some sharp toe-crushing balls?
A captain who is noted for thinking outside the box against a batter who is almost technically perfect. This is as exciting as it gets.
Even Dhoni, who has played the entire season with a tightly strapped left knee, may find it incredibly challenging to keep up with the rigours of the shortest format. His ardent fans may want him to return again next year.
Therefore, for every admirer of the “elder brother” (or “Thala” in Tamil), it’s all about enjoying the Dhoni moments while they last. He could afford to bat at No. 8 most of the time in this CSK lineup, but going into the finals with a bowling lineup that was missing Deepak Chahar for the majority of the first half and had to convert a careless Tushar Deshpande into a dependable wicket taker.
The legend of Dhoni will always exist, whether it was via turning the unreliable Shivam Dube into a six-hitting bully or coordinating the comeback of the T20 spinner Ravindra Jadeja. It will continue to expand, and decades from now, his captaincy tales will also be polished with coats of myth.
Although it’s said that familiarity breeds contempt, Dhoni and CSK won’t have any when they meet Hardik Padya’s Titans.
The “Roaring Lion” in the CSK insignia represents the squad from the Land of Gir Forest, but they would err by underestimating them.
The summit matchup pits the two most reliable teams after 73 games against one another.
Gujarat Titans, another team where cricketing decisions are founded on clear logic, consistency, and no involvement from overbearing owners, has closely modelled the organisational and team-building ethos of Chennai Super Kings.
Pandya is a captain who thinks there is just one effective approach to guide the team. ‘The Mahi Way’ is the name of it.
The ancient adage “Batters win games, bowlers win tournaments” couldn’t be more true when analysing the Titans’ performance.
The Titans haven’t really been impacted by the fact that skipper Hardik Pandya (325), who is more than 500 runs behind Gill’s 851 runs, is the second-highest run-scorer behind Shami, Rashid Khan, and Mohit Sharma (28 wickets, 27 wickets, and 24 wickets, respectively).
Despite having a strike rate of 127 while opening the batting and only one fifty-plus score in 16 innings, Wriddhiman Saha, a keeper of the highest calibre, would consider it a blessing that team management never considered replacing him.
Dhoni would attempt to take advantage of the situation at hand. If they can remove Gill early, the bowlers would need a respectable total on the board because no other batsman has demonstrated the motivation to battle hard.
Young bowlers like Sri Lanka’s Matheesha Pathirana (17 wickets in 15 matches) and India’s uncapped Tushar Deshpande (21 wickets in 15 matches) have also been able to establish themselves on the IPL stage under Dhoni, if players like Ajinkya Rahane (299 runs in 13 matches, two fifties) and Shivam Dube have found their groove this season.