It will be a test of wits between two new captains — Shubman Gill and Ruturaj Gaikwad — when defending champions Chennai Super Kings clash with Gujarat Titans in an Indian Premier League match in Chennai on March 26.

Both openers known for their smooth and elegant shot-making will be engaged in a battle of tactical supremacy as CSK and GT will be looking to sustain their momentum after wins in their previous matches.

While Gaikwad was elevated to the captaincy role after the legendary Mahendra Singh Dhoni stepped down as skipper on the eve of CSK’s opener against Royal Challengers Bengaluru, Gill had a bit more time to prepare for his new role as he was tasked to lead the Titans after Hardik Pandya left in November last year.

At 24, Gill is the youngest captain in the IPL but he showcased his mettle against MI in the leadership role. However, Gill’s task is made tad easier as he has head coach Ashish Nehra, who owns a tactically brilliant mind, the experienced David Miller and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson by his side.

Gaikwad, on the other hand, impressed on his captaincy debut under the tutelage of the talismanic Dhoni as CSK breezed to a six-wicket win against RCB.

But the bowling unit will eye an improved effort especially pacer Tushar Deshpande. After Mustafizur Rahman sizzled with a four-wicket haul, the CSK bowlers let Anuj Rawat and Dinesh Karthik put up a 95-run stand to let RCB put a decent total on the board.

Deshpande was guilty of leaking runs and he would be wary of another mediocre performance with veteran Shardul Thakur, who is also a handy customer with the bat, and the uncapped Mukesh Choudhary lurking around for a chance in the playing XI.

Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana has also been declared fit to play, having recovered from his hamstring injury.

Furthermore, there’s a chance that Rachin Ravindra can be used as a spin option, who has been bowling well in the nets of late.

CSK are unlikely to fiddle with their batting line-up.

In-form Ravindra impressed with a 15-ball 37 in his IPL debut against RCB and the Kiwi batter will look to continue in the same vein.

Young Sameer Rizvi, who also debuted in the previous game, did not get to bat and will be eager to show what he is capable of. Dhoni did not bat against Bengaluru and his legion fans will be desperate to see some fireworks from him.

On the other hand, the Titans will hope for a better outing with the bat, following a mediocre display against MI at home.

The GT batters failed to convert their starts and the former champions would need Gill and veteran wicketkeeper batter Wriddhiman Saha to give them an explosive start.

The middle-order batters comprising the likes of Azmatullah Omarzai, David Miller and Rahul Tewatia will have to pull up their socks as well.

Meanwhile, GT’s Chennai-born cricketer Sai Sudarshan, who has been in good form with the bat of late, will draw some attention from the crowd.

In the absence of veteran pacer Mohammad Shami, the Titans bowlers put up a consolidated effort to eke out a six-run win over Mumbai.

At the slow Chepauk track spinners Rashid Khan and Sai Kishore will play a pivotal role for them.


Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Moeen Ali, Deepak Chahar, Tushar Deshpande, Shivam Dube, Rajvardhan Hangarkar, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajay Mandal, Mukesh Chaudhary, Ajinkya Rahane, Shaik Rasheed, Mitchell Santner, Simarjeet Singh, Nishant Sindhu, Prashant Solanki, Maheesh Theekshana, Rachin Ravindra, Shardul Thakur, Daryl Mitchell, Sameer Rizvi, Mustafizur Rahman, and Aravelly Avanish Rao (wk).

Gujarat Titans: Shubhman Gill (c), David Miller, Matthew Wade, Wriddhiman Saha, Kane Williamson, Abhinav Manohar, Sai Sudarshan, Darshan Nalkande, Vijay Shankar, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Tewatia, Noor Ahmed, Sai Kishore, Rashid Khan, Joshua Little, Mohit Sharma, Azmatullah Omarzai, Umesh Yadav, Shahrukh Khan, Sushant Mishra, Kartik Tyagi, Manav Suthar, Spencer Johnson, Sandeep Warrier, BR Sharath.

Match starts: 7.30 pm.


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