GT vs CSK tip-off XI: Injured Dhoni could be CSK’s ‘impact player,’ Stokes to bat at 3, Williamson may open with Gill

In the past few seasons of the Indian Premier League (IPL), MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings (CSK) has relied more on his captaincy than his batting. With the new “impact player” rule in place for this edition of the IPL, there are chances that MS Dhoni could become CSK’s first impact sub.

The 41-year-old might be sweating over his fitness, but he remains the overwhelming presence that will guide CSK – be it from the dug-out, or behind the stumps, or as the new gig allows, as an Impact injection should he deem it necessary.


Indian Express argues if MS Dhoni is even 80 per cent fit, he could be CSK’s impact player. Ben Stokes might take his fellow countryman Moeen Ali’s spot at No 3, and for Gujarat Titans, Kane Williamson is most likely to open with Shubman Gill.

Dhoni to be CSK’s impact player

Last year, following the string of losses, Ravindra Jadeja had to relinquished Chennai Super Kings captaincy, handing it back to MS Dhoni. Dhoni had given up the CSK captaincy before the start of this year’s IPL, with an eye to the future. The idea was that the former captain would mother-hen his successor, allowing him to grow into the job. Jadeja has been reverential towards Dhoni, and he didn’t hesitate to lean heavily on the ex-skipper for on-field decisions. But the decision backfired heavily and after eight matches MS Dhoni took over the captaincy.

In the past few seasons, it has been Dhoni’s leadership skills which has helped CSK win the matches rather than his batting prowess.

A 41, Dhoni knows the template of IPL success only too well. On Friday, as the 16th edition starts, it will be very different from earlier ones as 12 players per side will take part in the pitched battle, with the ‘Impact Player’ rule coming into play for the first time. Dhoni, who is known for manoeuvring his resources and is also doubtful for the first match due to the knee injury, might well make himself the ‘Impact Player’ if need be during chases. Even in the coming games, we might see the more of MS Dhoni, the wicketkeeper and captain.

Stokes to bat 3

Just Like the CSK skipper, the talismanic England all-rounder Ben Stokes too has a knee niggle and may not be available for the full season or bowl at all. By bringing in Ben Stokes for a record sum of Rs 16.25 crore, all things point towards a season where Dhoni passes the baton.

The million-dollar question is, where Stokes will bat. With Rajasthan Royals, the all-rounder used to open. But in Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad, CSK has an established opening pair. In that case, the southpaw might take the place of Moeen Ali at No 3, who has been instrumental for CSK at that position.

It will be left heavy middle-order for CSK with Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, and Shivam Dube in it. It would be interesting to see how the power-packed swashbuckling southpaw all-rounders will fare against the leg spin of Rashid Khan.

Williamson likely to open with Gill

With Shubman Gill in the form of his life, who is going to be his opening partner? Wriddhiman Saha did reasonably well for the Titans in their inaugural season, scoring 317 runs and the heavy lifting in the powerplay. David Miller’s absence from the opener due to national duty will reduce some middle-order muscle and Kane Williamson is anot a like-to-like replacement for the southpaw.

In that case, Matthew Wade, who has opened in the innings for the Titans in their first five matches, might be given the role of finisher, which he has done exceedingly well for his national team. If Williamson will open and Wade will bat in the middle order, then unfortunately, Saha will have to sit out.

GT vs CSK Predicted XIs

Gujarat Titans XI: 1 Shubman Gill, Kane Williamson, Sai Sudharsan, Hardik Pandya (C), Matthew Wade (WK), 6 Rahul Tewatia, Abhinav Manohar, Rashid Khan, Jayant Yadav, Alzarri Joseph, Mohammed Shami

Chennai Super Kings XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Devon Conway, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Shivam Dube, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Simarjeet Singh

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