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Gujarat Titans' Shubman Gill decimated the Mumbai Indians' bowling in the Qualifier 2, hitting his third century in four matches. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Indian opener Shubman Gill has been in the form of his life. The right-hander has scored three centuries in the last four matches for his franchise Gujarat Titans in Indian Premier League Season 16, guiding the defending champions to straight final on Friday. Given the kind of form he is in, former Sri Lankan pacer Chaminda Vaas feels Gill is the new Virat Kohli of Indian cricket.

“The way he played yesterday [Friday] was excellent. For me he is going to be the next Virat Kohli. The way he dominated the bowlers is exciting to watch and he batted really well,” told Gulf News during the IPL chat show Talking IPL.

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“He is in the peak of his prowess now. When it comes to T20 it is difficult to talk about the bowling areas, but there are so many ways as a bowler you can get him out. However, the way Gill bats now, no bowler will be able to get him out early,” added the 49-year-old pacer, who has won many battles against legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

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Sri Lankan bowlers Maheesh Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana have been the main weapons for Mahendra Singh Dhoni this season. Image Credit: AFP

The Punjab-born Gill is in such imperious form that he is way ahead of his teammates in the race for the Orange Cap for the highest scorer in an IPL season. Many comparisons between Indian talisman and former skipper Kohli and Gill have already surfaced since the 23-year-old started scoring centuries and double centuries from the start of the year. Gill has managed to extend his international form into the IPL Season 16 and leading the charts with 851 runs.

Gill’s form is such that he could single-handedly guide Titans in their defence, but that could also be a huge disadvantage to the hosts in a high-pressure situation such as the final.

Dominance of the past

In the Qualifier 1, Gill had a rare failure in the current scheme of things, 42 off 38 balls, and Gujarat suffered 15-run loss to the same rivals, Chennai Super Kings, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Dhoni, the man who has engineered the Super Kings to four titles so far, will be eager to add the fifth in a season that the Team Yellow is showing the dominance of the past. In 2022, Chennai finished ninth in the 10-team league, but this season they have been consistent in their performance and finished second behind Gujarat in the league table.

The main reason for Chennai’s success is the stunning form of their openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Devon Conway. They are well supported by young dasher Shivam Dube, who has found an extra gear this season.

“In all three departments of the game, both teams are right on the money. They execute their plans perfectly in the middle and that’s why they have won so many games and reached the final,” Vaas, the 1996 World Cup winner, said. “Both teams are very talented and they have a lot of entertainers in the team, but a slight advantage to Gujarat as they are playing at Ahmedabad.”

Smart operator

Both teams have plenty of match-winners in their ranks, and Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya also is a smart operator and uses his players to the best of their abilities and also have a very good record at home.

Still, Dhoni is likely to be a shade ahead of his younger rival in what is widely tipped as his last season as player, though there are conflicting reports towards that. While ex-Chennai star Suresh Raina said that Dhoni, known as Thala for his legion of fans, will continue for one year after winning the title, while Dhoni himself said that he will decide on his future by December.

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Ruturaj Gaikwad has been giving Chennai Super Kings a brisk start, joining hands with Devon Conway to put the rival attack to the sword. Image Credit: AFP

Dhoni, in the Qualifier 1, wasted four minutes to ensure that his ace bowler Matheesha Pathirana bowls his full quota of overs after being away for nine minutes. Many disagreed and called it is gamesmanship that didn’t fit Dhoni’s stature, Vaas praised the Chennai skipper’s acumen.

Brilliant move

“I think it is a clever move. The way he uses Pathirana in death overs is remarkable. With IPL bringing in all the technology and impact player rule to entertaining people and the way he handled this is absolutely brilliant. It’s a smart move,” added the left-arm pacer.

The final could be a contest between the Gujarat bowlers and the Chennai batters. Three Titans’ bowlers, Mohammed Shami, Rashid Khan and Mohit Sharma, are the top three leading contenders for Purple Cap, while they will be up against a Chennai opening pair that has been putting their rivals to the sword.