Ashes fever may be building in England but out in India Sunday’s IPL final will be dominating the agenda.
The game will pit four-time winners and five-time runners-up Chennai Super Kings against defending champions Gujarat Titans, with the game live on Sky Sports Cricket from 2.50pm (3pm start).
Gujarat won the title last season in their first year as a franchise, beating Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets in a low-scoring game.
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Shubman Gill top-scored in that match with 45 and he was top-scoring again for Titans in Friday’s Qualifier win over Mumbai Indians, albeit with a significantly higher total. A sparkling 129 from 60 balls, which Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya classed as “one of the finest” T20 knocks he had seen.
‘Superstar’ Gill in red-hot form for Gujarat
“At no point of time he looked rushed, at no point he looked like he was not in control,” said Hardik, after Gill, dropped on 30, had struck 10 sixes and seven fours against Mumbai.
“It looked as if someone was throwing down the balls and he was just hitting. He is a superstar and is going to do big things to franchise cricket and Indian cricket.”
Gill’s ton was his third in four knocks – he nailed a 58-ball 101 against Sunrisers Hyderabad and an unbeaten 104 from 52 deliveries versus Royal Challengers Bangalore – with his tally of runs for the season, which also includes 94 not out from 51 balls against Lucknow Super Giants, standing at 851.
If Gill scores 123 or more against Chennai, and on current form that should not be ruled out, he will eclipse Virat Kohli’s record of 973 runs in a single IPL campaign, which the latter amassed for RCB in 2016.
The Gujarat batter is already second on that list, with only England white-ball skipper Jos Buttler – 863 runs for Rajasthan in 2022 – splitting India legend Kohli and man-of-the-season Gill.
A hundred of any kind for Gill would see him equal Kohli and Buttler’s record of four in a season.
Moeen going for IPL glory – but is it Dhoni’s final game?
Trying to stop him will be England’s Moeen Ali, who has been a regular fixture in the Chennai side, featuring 14 times in the franchise’s run to a 10th IPL final and a second in three years.
CSK triumphed in 2021 – MS Dhoni’s men seeing off the Eoin Morgan-led Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs in a game in which Moeen scored an unbeaten 37.
There was the feeling back then that it could be Dhoni’s IPL farewell, only for the former India captain to continue his career. But now, ahead of turning 42 in July, could this be the end? Whatever the decision, Dhoni says he will not be rushed.
“I have ample time to decide, eight or nine months. Why take that headache now? I will always be there for CSK, whether in the playing form or sitting somewhere outside, I don’t really know.”
Should Dhoni lead Chennai to victory over Gujarat, the Super Kings would match Mumbai’s record haul of five IPL titles. To do that, though, they may have to keep Gill quiet, something they did to a degree when they beat Titans on May 23 to secure direct progression to the final.
A 38-ball 42, which ended when Gill skewed a short ball from Deepak Chahar to deep square leg, is the only time in his last four innings he has not reached three figures.
Watch the IPL final between Chennai Super Kings and Gujarat Titans live on Sky Sports Cricket on Sunday. Coverage begins at 2.50pm ahead of the first ball at 3pm.