The 2023 Indian Premier League season will reach its conclusion on Sunday as four-time winners Chennai Super Kings lock horns with defending champions Gujarat Titans in what should be a gripping finale.
Gujarat and Chennai were the two standout teams in this year's IPL, finishing the regular season in first and second spot respectively.
They met in the eliminator in the play-offs with the Super Kings prevailing by 15 runs to book their spot in the final, sending Gujarat into Qualifier Two.
But the Titans held their nerve to win the subsequent play-off encounter with Mumbai Indians, winning by 62 runs to make it back-to-back finals in their first two seasons as an IPL franchise.
|What||Chennai Super Kings v Gujarat Titans, Indian Premier League final|
|Where||Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad|
|When||15.00pm, Sunday 28th May|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Cricket / DAZN|
|Odds||Chennai Super Kings 10/11, Gujarat Titans 10/11|
History will be made one way or the other on Sunday as Gujarat Titans look to win their second IPL title in as many seasons, while Chennai Super King prepare for their tenth appearance in an IPL final.
The Super Kings won the IPL as recently as 2021 before a disastrous 2022 campaign which saw them collect only four wins in the regular season and miss out on the play-offs.
But they have come back with a vengeance this season, winning eight of their 14 regular-season fixtures to finish second in the standings.
They are now on the brink of a fifth IPL title, which would draw them level with Mumbai Indians as the most successful team in the tournament's history.
Captain and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni is approaching his 42nd birthday and another title triumph could be a fitting farewell for the veteran but this is a tough game to call with both sides priced at 10/11 to lift the trophy.
The Titans were once again the team to beat in the IPL regular season, winning ten of their 14 matches, and they have been there and done it as recently as last year.
It is a tight-knit group and punters should not read too much into the fact they lost to Chennai Super Kings in the play-offs.
In that eliminator contest, Chennai were playing in the familiar setting of the MA Chidambaram Stadium, where they played their home contests throughout the regular season.
That surely gave them the advantage and even then, they only edged their opponents by 15 runs.
Gujarat came out on top when the teams met on the opening day of the season and they will be playing this final at their home venue of the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Playing in their home region should give them a psychological edge and they are the best bet at 10/11 to win the IPL 2023 title.
Also going in favour of the Titans is the fact they possess the competition's most in-form batsman in Shubman Gill.
Gill has been prolific at the crease all season but took things up a level when his team needed him the most against Mumbai Indians in the play-offs.
Gill had been dropped on 30 in the match but responded by striking seven fours and ten sixes to reach a score of 129 from only 60 balls.
It was an explosive yet elegant performance from the 23-year-old, who is set to secure the Orange Cap - awarded to the IPL's top scorer - after the final.
He has scored a total of 851 runs in 16 innings this year and with his knock last time out, he became just the third player to score three or more centuries in an IPL season.
It may be an obvious selection but backing Gill to be top scorer for the Titans at 9/4 is a value one nonetheless. He is also worth a bet at 5/6 to score 31 runs or more, having struck an unbeaten 45 at the same venue in last year's IPL final against Rajasthan Royals.
If Gujarat go on to secure a second successive IPL title on Sunday, a lot will be made of Gill's influence and rightly so, but captain Hardik Pandya also deserves a mention.
The all-rounder will be leading Gujarat into back-to-back finals as skipper and, while Dhoni's experience as Chennai captain will be key in a game of this magnitude, Pandya's calm and collected nature is also important for the Titans.
He is capable with bat and ball, having scored 325 runs, and is another one to keep an eye on.