The Chennai Super Kings are the sentimental favorites to win the IPL 2018. Their first game against the Mumbai Indians was proof of that. Even the partisan Mumbai crowd was cheering for MS Dhoni and his men against their own team. That’s how popular CSK are, and Dhoni is.
Today, CSK play their first game of the season at their home grown in Chennai. This match, we can tell you, has been anticipated by the Chennai crowd for more than 3 years now. They are pleased as a punch to have their boys back in action, led by the great MS Dhoni, whose career, as everyone knows is on its last legs.
Dhoni’s boys have a very good success rate in Chennai. They have won more than 70% of their games here. They will be watched and cheered by a huge crowd. All tickets for the CSK home games have been sold out.
There is such a huge demand for the tickets to these games that people are selling them for tens of thousands of rupees on the black market. We have even heard of people paying in Bitcoins for the IPL tickets!
With so much focus on Dhoni and CSK, it is hard to forget that there is an opposition as well. Kolkata Knight Riders are a serious outfit this season and in wicket-keeper/batsman Dinesh Karthik, they have a very good leader. Karthik would have played a lot more for India, but unfortunately, his career started at the same time as Dhoni’s did.
We expect both KKR and CSK to be among the best teams this season and make it to the playoffs. This match will be a tight contest and we will get a better idea of the two champion teams’ strengths and weaknesses.
CSK have been unfortunate to lose Kedar Jadhav, the hero of the last match, to a serious hamstring injury. Kedar will be hurting badly emotionally as he will be out of this season’s IPL. This injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for this talented batsman. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Kedar Jadhav will be replaced by M Vijay. They are two completely different batsmen, so this is certainly not a like for like replacement. There is no question that CSK’s team balance has been upset by this injury.
Michael Hussey, Super Kings’ batting coach spoke about Jadhav’s unfortunate injury and how it affected his team: “We feel like we’ve got the necessary backup or depth to be able to cover it. It’s certainly going to be a focus going forward. The players at the top of the order, Nos. 1-4, need to take the responsibility to try and score the bulk of the runs.”
Finally, a word on Sunil Narine, the batting sensation, who made a 17-ball 50 in the last game against RCB. Virat Kohli missed a trick not using his fastest bowler Umesh Yadav at the start of the game against Narine. For Narine, spin bowling and medium pace bowling are easy pickings. But he is known to struggle against genuine pace. Dhoni would be wise to use his fastest bowler Mark Wood against him.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 M Vijay, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Deepak Chahar, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Mark Wood/Lungi Ngidi, 11 Imran Tahir
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 6 Rinku Singh, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Vinay Kumar/Shivam Mavi/Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Watch Chennai Super Kings play Kolkata Knight Riders tonight at 8 pm live on Star Sports!