IPL 2023 Preview: Super Kings and Titans face early challenges and key player absences

In IPL 2023 The Super Kings are facing the challenge of playing five of their first eight games away from home, and their major concern from last season, their economy rate at the death, still remains unsolved. The Titans, on the other hand, lacked a dependable anchor last season, but the arrival of Kane Williamson, who is in better shape than last year, could address that issue. Titans’ bowling attack looks formidable with the addition of Shivam Mavi and Josh Little, the first Irish player to be picked in the Indian Premier League.

The Super Kings will be without Sri Lankan duo Maheesh Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana for the first three games due to their participation in a white-ball series in New Zealand. However, Devon Conway and Mitchell Santner are available for selection. Meanwhile, Titans are in good health and have no significant injury concerns.

Reports on Thursday indicated that Chennai Super Kings’ captain, MS Dhoni, might miss the IPL opener due to an injury. However, their CEO later confirmed that Dhoni was fit to play. Titans will have to do without the services of their pacer Sisanda Magala in the initial matches as he will be representing South Africa in their game against Netherlands. Similarly, Titans will miss David Miller, their finisher, who will join the franchise after the Netherlands ODIs end on April 2nd.

A potential strategy for the Gujarat Titans to maximize their resources is to include an additional batsman, like Abhinav Manohar, instead of a slow fielder. This would allow them to have seven bowling options, including Hardik Pandya and Rahul Tewatia, during their defence. If they choose to bowl first, the Titans could utilize the Impact Player rule to bring in Sai Sudharsan for stability or Manohar for a late charge instead of Mohammed Shami.

For the Chennai Super Kings, a batting-focused XI may include Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, MS Dhoni (captain and wicket-keeper), Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, and Simarjeet Singh/Tushar Deshpande. With Santner in the team, the Super Kings will have batting depth up to No. 10 and six bowling options, excluding Ben Stokes. It is unclear if they will employ the Impact Player rule in this situation.

If the Super Kings opt to bowl first, a possible XI could consist of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, MS Dhoni (captain and wicket-keeper), Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, and Simarjeet Singh/Tushar Deshpande. To counter Rashid Khan in the middle order, the Super Kings could bring in Ambati Rayudu from the bench, who has a good record against him. He could replace Simarjeet as an Impact Player.

Ambati Rayudu has a strong record against Rashid Khan, having scored 79 runs off 65 deliveries against him in the IPL without losing his wicket. Despite missing IPL 2022, Deepak Chahar remains the leading wicket-taker in the powerplay over the previous five seasons, with 42 dismissals in 58 innings at an economy rate of 7.61. Alzarri Joseph has the second-best economy rate among right-arm seamers who have bowled at least 100 balls in the last year, conceding just 7.51 runs per over at the death in T20s. Only Anrich Nortje, with an economy rate of 7.39, has a better record, but he has taken two fewer wickets than Joseph’s 16.

The Motera stadium features six red-soil pitches and five black-soil pitches. The pitches used for the previous IPL final and the recent T20I against New Zealand favoured seamers, with dew being less of a factor later in the evening. On the eve of the IPL opener, it rained, disrupting the practice sessions of both teams, but the weather is projected to be clear during the match.

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