The stage is all set for the big clash between Gujarat Titans and Chennai Super Kings in the Qualifier 1 match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium with a focus on the key players from both sides.
The two teams had locked horns in the opening match of IPL 2023 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in which Hardik Pandya's side had emerged victorious by 5 wickets at home against the team led by M.S Dhoni.
While defending champions Gujarat Titans will be banking on their strong bowling unit led by Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan, who lead the standings for most wickets with 24 wickets apiece. Four-time champions Chennai Super Kings will be looking up to their successful opening pair of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway to provide them with a strong start on Tuesday.
Gujarat Titans will be relying heavily upon their star spinner Rashid Khan on the spin-friendly Chepauk track, feels former India cricketer Virender Sehwag, who reckons the Afghanistan spin sensation will be the trump card for the defending champions.
"Rashid Khan is the trump card for Gujarat. If they want wickets, they bring him. And then the way Hardik has used Rashid, it is commendable. Rashid likes to break partnerships and now he has become the most successful bowler of this season on the basis of his excellent performance," said the former India opener.
Both CSK and GT have been similar in their approach and it will be an evenly-poised contest at Chepauk when these two heavyweights collide in the first Playoff match of the season.
Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar while highlighting the similarities between the two teams claimed the two are tactically similar teams and that will make the contest between them interesting.
"Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans have been very similar teams tactically. Both these teams don't look to make too much of changes and the leadership group keeps the atmosphere light in the dressing room. The battle between these two in Playoffs will be an interesting one," Manjrekar told Star Sports' Cricket Live.
Former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh believes the home condition will give CSK a slight advantage but the Dhoni-led side hasn't been able to convert Chepauk into an impregnable fortress this year, unlike in the past, but the Playoffs experience will bode this team well.
"The contest between CSK and GT will be intense as both teams know how to win big games. CSK playing at home is a big advantage, they know the conditions well but somewhere their performance at home hasn't been foolproof this year. So this makes things interesting but CSK looks a completely different side when it plays in the Playoffs. I am really looking forward to this match," Harbhajan Singh said.
The in-form opening pair of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway has been one of the reasons for CSK's dominance in IPL 2023. Former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh said the duo will have to play a crucial role in the Playoffs stage for CSK.
"Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway come to the ground with full preparation. They have been complimenting each other very well this season. They have given good starts to CSK and scored runs in abundance and entertained the spectators. The team whose openers play well, tend to score well and that is why CSK are in a good position today," Harbhajan told Star Sports' Cricket Live.
Titans and CSK finished first and second in the standings following the preliminary group stage.
Tuesday's Qualifier 1 will be a test for consistent performance during IPL 2023 and the team that keeps their nerve will emerge winner and reach the final.
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