Pune: Gujarat Titans’ spinner Rashid Khan and middle-order batter David Miller will be eyeing key milestones when their side takes on four-time champions Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the MCA here later on Sunday.
While Rashid, the Afghanistan cricketer, is just one short of reaching 100 IPL wickets, Miller is 33 runs away from completing 8,000 runs in T20 cricket.
Table-toppers Gujarat Titans are on a high after their skipper Hardik Pandya dished out one of his best performances in IPL 2022 during their 37-run victory against Rajasthan Royals at the DY Patil Stadium on April 14. Pandya smashed an unbeaten 87 off just 52 deliveries as the IPL newbies amassed 192/4 in 20 overs before restricting the Royals to 155/9.
Abhinav Manohar too played a key role, scoring 43 off 28 before Miller slammed an unbeaten 14-ball 31.
But there is little doubt that CSK will pose a huge challenge despite their unflattering position on the points table. CSK’s victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in the ‘Southern Derby’ shows how dangerous the Ravindra Jadeja-led outfit is.
CSK’s strength is their depth in batting and their spin bowling, which makes for a neat match-up with the Titans’, who have got some extremely good spin-hitters in their line-up, and have among the more potent bowling attacks in the competition.
Once again, GT will rely on Shubman Gill to give them the impetus and take on the likes of Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja and Maheesh Theekshana. The youngster has had two quiet games after starting IPL 2022 in imperious fashion, and will be looking to stamp his class on the contest soon.
However, as crucial as Gill is, all eyes will be on captain Hardik. His batting reached a different level in the last game, while his fielding was spectacular.
The Titans have had only one stumble, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, so far this season. Other than that blemish, the Titans have found multiple heroes in every game. The bowling trio of Lockie Ferguson, Rashid Khan and Mohammed Shami have taken turns to grab the spotlight, while Gill, David Miller and Rahul Tewatia are coming into this game on the back of confidence and runs.
The Super Kings have found an unexpected batting mainstay in Shivam Dube, who has come into his own after being promoted up the order. Their lower middle-order strength has not been tested yet, but it remains significant, with the likes of MS Dhoni and Jadeja.
Dwayne Bravo, Dhoni, Jadeja and Ambati Rayudu will be CSK’s trump cards but with Rashid in the GT side, scoring prolifically could be tough for the four-time IPL champions. Rashid may not grab a bunch of wickets in every game, but the opposition will rarely get on top of him. If the pace bowlers can stifle CSK batters at the start, Rashid can take control of the middle overs.
Since Rashid’s IPL debut in 2017, no one has taken more than his 70 wickets in overs 7-15. And among the top five wicket-takers in that phase, Rashid is the only one to go at less than six runs an over.