After weeks of buildup, intense speculations, debates over workload issues and player combinations, the Indian Premier League will finally kick off on March 23. The first game is a mouth-watering clash between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore. CSK, who are the defending champions, will look to get off the blocks quickly while RCB will eye a winning start to their campaign.
CSK and RCB have faced off 22 times in the past and Dhoni's boys have won 14 of those encounters. This is the most number of wins by CSK against any side in the IPL. They have also lost their last six encounters against CSK, which will be a battle for the side.
Dhoni roar at the Chepauk
The venue for the first match is Chepauk which has been a happy hunting ground for MS Dhoni over the years. He has the record for the second-most number of runs scored at the venue. Suresh Raina takes the top spot for the highest number of runs scored at the venue.
Against RCB, the CSK skipper has been a run-churning machine. He has scored 710 runs against RCB, which is better than Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, etc. After a bumper season last year, wherein he scored 455 runs in 16 matches, which was the second-most lucrative year after 2013, Dhoni would want to carry on his good form this year too, especially with the World Cup slated to be held after the IPL. He smacked 252 runs off 118 balls between overs 16 and 20 in IPL 2018. He was well above any other batsman last year at the death.
Dwayne Bravo, another important cog in the CSK squad, was not at his best last year and conceded runs at an economy rate of 12.12 between overs 16 and 20. He needs to fix it this year as CSK would want their "Champion" to step up and be counted.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C) (WK), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, Murali Vijay, Karn Sharma, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, David Willey, Imran Tahir, Faf du Plessis, Deepak Chahar, Sam Billings (WK), Mohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Dhruv Shorey, Monu Kumar, Mitchell Santner, Chaitanya Bishnoi, N Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, KM Asif
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (C), Umesh Yadav, Parthiv Patel (WK), AB de Villiers, Tim Southee, Moeen Ali, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Yuzvendra Chahal, Colin de Grandhomme, Pawan Negi, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Akshdeep Nath, Milind Kumar, Marcus Stoinis, Navdeep Saini, Shimron Hetmyer, Heinrich Klaasen (WK), Himmat Singh, Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Kulwant Khejroliya, Devdutt Padikkal, Prayas Barman