Known for their versatile skills, Jadeja and Pandya have served Indian cricket well and the pair will be engaged in a battle for tactical supremacy on Sunday, with both sides looking to build on their momentum after wins in their previous matches.
While Jadeja was elevated to captaincy by CSK, Pandya was drafted in as leader of the Titans after Mumbai Indians failed to retain the versatile talent as he struggled with his fitness. Pandya gave the newcomers a strong start with four wins in five games. The Titans head into the game having bounced back from their only loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad with a 37-point win over Rajasthan Royals on Thursday. Jadeja, on the other hand, went through a rough initial phase with the team losing their first four games before opening their account with a 23-point win over Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Bowling was a major concern for CSK but the former champions produced a better show against RCB with the rotation duo of Maheesh Theekshana and skipper Jadeja going wild with seven wickets between them in their last game. But pacemaker Mukesh Choudhary was unable to rise to the occasion in the absence of CSK mainstay Deepak Chahar who was ruled out of the IPL with a back injury.
Chris Jordon and Dwayne Bravo did well overall to keep things under control even though the latter was taken for runs in the last game. The Titans, however, boast a formidable bowling team with New Zealand speedster Lockie Ferguson (8 wickets), India speedster Mohammed Shami (7) and Pandya (4) himself all capable of taking wickets and put the opposition under the pump.
With six wickets so far, Afghan spinner Rashid Khan has also managed to reduce the running flow. In the batting department, Pandya and fly-half Shubman Gill, with two fifty apiece, were among the runs, but Matthew Wade’s form was a concern.
Rookie Abhinav Manohar and South African David Miller were good in their last game and the team expects them to take more responsibility. Rahul Tewatia also shone in his finisher role as his six earned the Titans a victory over the Lucknow Super Giants.
For CSK, time is running out for young fly-half Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has been in terrible form this season. Moeen Ali also lacked consistency at the top of the list. Ditto for Ambati Rayudu, who failed to capitalize on his departures. The versatile Shivam Dube was their star performer as he blasted an unbeaten 95 to number four the other night. Fly-half Robin Uthappa also turned the clock back on his hammering 88 shots against the RCB bowlers.
However, Jadeja and former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will have to show more intention when the going gets tough in the middle.
Chennai Super Kings: Ravindra Jadeja (captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Ambati Rayadu, Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner, Chris Jordan, Adam Milne, Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Maheesh Theekshana, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Tushar Deshpande, KM Asif, C Hari Nishaanth, N Jagadeesan, Subranshu Senapati, K Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Simarjeet Singh, Mukesh Choudhary.
Gujarat Titans: Hardik Pandya (captain), Abhinav Manohar, David Miller, Gurkeerat Singh, B Sai Sudarshan, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Matthew Wade, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Wriddhiman Saha, Alzarri Joseph, Darshan Nalkande, Dominic Drakes, Jayant Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Mohammed Shami, Noor Ahmad, Pradeep Sangwan, Rashid Khan, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Varun Aaron, Yash Dayal.
The game starts at 7:30 p.m.