It will be a battle between the “young apprentice and his master” when Rishabh Pant’s Delhi Capitals and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings face off in an IPL match on Saturday, with the two teams aiming for a winning start to the campaign. The Delhi franchise finished second last season in the UAE and would aim to do better this time around and a strong start would be what they are looking for. Three-time champions CSK had an unforgettable season last year, finishing seventh out of eight teams and they would also be looking for a winning start in their attempt to mend a bad 2020 IPL.
Goalkeeper-batsman Pant, anointed as captain in the absence of injured Shreyas Iyer, recently said he would put his learning from Dhoni to good use as DC opens the season.
“My first game as captain will be against Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni). It will be a good experience for me as I have learned a lot from him. I will apply my own experience and I will learn from him,” said recently. Pant. .
Delhi’s strong batting lineup of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith and Pant himself will be looking to shoot all cylinders from the opening game. Dhawan (618 races) was the second-highest points scorer in the IPL 2020 and seemed in good contact during the recent ODI series against England.
He would be eager to go this season. Shaw will be eager to prove his worth after racking up 827 points in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Chances are, Shaw and Dhawan would open. Captain Pant, a hard-hitting batsman, is in the shape of a life, having emerged as a match winner for India in the series against Australia and England.
He would like to continue his good race. The Delhi squad also have the likes of versatile Marcus Stonis, Shimron Hetymar and Sam Billings, but will need to get the right team mix, as only four foreign players can feature in the game XI. They have enough options for choose from the battery of stimulators including Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes and Anrich Nortje.
Even though the South African duo of Rabada and Nortje miss the first game when they joined the team a few days ago, DC has enough firepower and bowling experience. Also, playing a key role on a slow track in Wankhede would be the spinners – Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra, although Axar Patel is not available because he tested positive for COVID-19 last Saturday.
On the other hand, Chennai will be strengthened by the return of experienced drummer Suresh Raina, who is their all-time leading scorer with 5368 points. Raina will reinforce the First Order, which includes young Ruturaj Gaikwad, South African Faf Du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu.
With the likes of young Sam Curran, who came close to securing a victory for England in the ODI Final against India, and Moeen Ali, as well as great finisher Dhoni, Chennai also has a stable middle order. Their bowling attack will be led by the ever-improving Shardul Thakur who can also strike, and Deepak Chahar. And then there’s Ravindra Jadeja, the cunning left arm spinner, who can also come in handy with the bat.
Behind the closed doors of Wankhede Stadium, which was ravaged by a string of COVID-19 cases before being allowed to host matches, it remains to be seen whether Pant is able to outsmart Dhoni or if MSD has its way.
The teams (of):
Delhi capitals: Rishabh Pant (c & wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Chris Woakes, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Lalit Yadav, Pravin Dubey, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishantma Sharma, Avesh Khan, Steve Smith, Umesh Yadav, Ripal Patel, Vishnu Vinod, Lukman Meriwala, Mr. Siddarth, Tom Curran, Sam Billings.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c & wk), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, R Sai Kishore, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishaanth.
The match starts at 7:30 p.m.
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