Gujarat Titans to begin IPL title defence in front of sell-out Ahmedabad crowd

Hardik Pandya's team face Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2023 opener on Friday

Gujarat Titans won the IPL 2022 title in Ahmedabad. Sportzpics for IPL
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The Indian Premier League is set for a grand kick-off at the biggest cricket stadium in the world in what will be a momentous occasion for all 10 teams.

The T20 league returns to the home and away format for the first time in four years following the upheaval caused by the pandemic; last year the IPL was held mostly in western Indian venues in Mumbai and Pune.

This year, all franchises will get a chance to mobilise their local support and also maximise gate revenue, which is projected to be higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Defending champions Gujarat Titans seem well-placed in that regard as they begin their title defence against Chennai Super Kings at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday.

The 132,000-capacity venue has reportedly been sold out for the opening game, which should come as no surprise as Gujarat will be captained by local hero Hardik Pandya and their opponents by crowd-favourite Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

While a return to familiar settings will be a welcome boost for teams, they will need to quickly master new rules that will add another dimension to the game.

For the first time, IPL sides will be allowed to name their playing XI after the toss and also make a tactical substitution with an 'impact player' coming in to bat or bowl as needed.

Also, teams can now review calls of no-balls and wides, which could lead to some contentious moments.

Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting said the introduction of an impact player could negate the need for all-rounders.

"Unless they're absolutely world class and getting picked either as a batsman or as a bowler ... I don't think you'll see many teams use the guy that might bat at seven and maybe bowl an over or two," Ponting said.

Even so, it was star all-rounders who attracted the most attention during the player auction for IPL 2023. England all-rounder Sam Curran became the most expensive player in the tournament's history when he was snapped up by Punjab Kings for 185 million Indian rupees ($2.25 million).

Australian all-rounder Cameron Green will also look to live up to his paycheck after joining Mumbai for 175 million rupees.

The IPL will also present players with the chance to get used to conditions in India, where the 50-overs World Cup will be held in October and November.

With one eye on that tournament, India captain Rohit Sharma suggested his national team players should consider managing their workload during the IPL.

His concerns are well-placed as India have a number of star players on the sidelines; Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Shreyas Iyer are missing the IPL this year due to injury.

Updated: March 30, 2023, 10:53 AM