Numbers matter. But if confidence, pressure and other sporting buzzwords were indeed irrelevant, cricket would’ve been played by robots.
Chennai Super Kings have resisted letting the situation get to them in the past. Players who were a part of the setup have claimed that the feeling of playing a final was never really felt in the team. Yet, a day ahead of the 2023 final, Stephen Fleming, who has been a part of 11 IPL finals, doesn’t deny that there is ‘a bit of nervousness’. It’s what makes the players perform at their best, according to him.
On the other hand, Vikram Solanki, GT’s Director of Cricket, put up a more relaxed front – of being confident in what the team has achieved in its brief past, as well as giving the due to CSK who have done it many times over.
CSK may have dictated terms in the first Qualifier against Gujarat Titans, but on a slowish surface in Chennai, it was home comfort for them. Irrespective of how many fans turn up wearing the yellow jersey in Ahmedabad on Sunday in the hope to see MS Dhoni lift the trophy again in what could be his last game in the IPL, conditions will be far from home. Fleming isn’t fretting though. Playing on all sorts of surfaces this season has equipped his team slightly better to neutral pitches, according to him.
Solanki is expecting a fast, high-scoring wicket, similar to the one where the home side had chased down CSK’s 178-run total with four balls to spare right at the start of the season. GT may be slightly better equipped for such conditions, asshowcased on Friday against Mumbai Indians.
While a lot of skill and tactics will be at play, the title clash will boil down to the pressures of the day for two teams who have enjoyed spells of domination throughout the season
The game doesn’t change but the outcome does. It’s really hard not to look too far ahead and dream of winning it again. To be a part of it is what we sit out to do, that’s our purpose.” – Stephan Fleming, CSK head coach, on the nervousness of the final
“Shubman has batted for a lion’s share of overs and we are very pleased that he is doing that. At any given time there can only be two batters. If the entirety of our overs, if it’s just the openers batting, it’s just fine by us – Vikram Solanki, GT Director of Cricket
Gujarat Titans Squad: Wriddhiman Saha(w), Shubman Gill, Sai Sudharsan, Hardik Pandya(c), Vijay Shankar, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Mohit Sharma, Noor Ahmad, Mohammed Shami, Joshua Little, Srikar Bharat, Shivam Mavi, Odean Smith, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Pradeep Sangwan, Matthew Wade, Jayant Yadav, Dasun Shanaka, Abhinav Manohar, Alzarri Joseph, Darshan Nalkande, Urvil Patel, Yash Dayal
Chennai Super Kings Squad: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Deepak Chahar, Tushar Deshpande, Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana, Mitchell Santner, Subhranshu Senapati, Shaik Rasheed, Akash Singh, Ben Stokes, Dwaine Pretorius, Sisanda Magala, Ajay Jadav Mandal, Prashant Solanki, Simarjeet Singh, RS Hangargekar, Bhagath Varma, Nishant Sindhu