It was surprising to see a team of CSK’s stature play the way they did in the previous edition of the Indian Premier League where they failed to make it to the playoffs. But this was always coming as most of their players seemed to have passed their prime.
The only good thing about CSK’s miserable performance was that the franchise realised that change is the only constant in life. Having played with almost the same team for years, CSK started looking out for more options. Consequently, they brought in players like Moeen Ali, Krishnappa Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara in the squad. The team looks way more balanced now.
Ruturaj Gaikwad played well in the latter stages of the IPL 2021 and is most likely to open with either Faf du Plessis or Robin Uthappa. CSK missed the services of Suresh Raina in the previous season but the southpaw is back in the yellow jersey which is a massive boost. The middle-order also looks decent with Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Moeen Ali and Ravindra Jadeja available at their disposal. In the bowling department, Shardul Thakur has been very good of late while Lungi Ngidi, Jason Behrendorff, Sam Curran are capable enough to exploit the conditions in Wankhede.
While CSK struggled in the previous edition, DC had their best ever season and reached the final of the T20 extravaganza. They were dealt with a massive blow ahead of the IPL 2021 as their skipper Shreyas Iyer was ruled out of the tournament. However, even without Iyer, the Delhi Capitals look good enough to go one step further and win the title.
Prithvi Shaw was a massive failure in the last season but the opener is coming back from a scintillating performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Other than him, Shikhar Dhawan, Steve Smith, Rishabh Pant, Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer forms a very strong batting order. The quality batting is backed by an equally strong bowling lineup that consists of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra. However, the participation of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje is not certain for the 1st game.
Pitch and weather report – The game will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The surface is expected to play in favour of the batsmen but the pacers will get some help with the new ball.
Chennai Super Kings
Ruturaj Gaikwad showed great skills as an opener and is most likely to be the first choice opener for CSK. Along with him, Dhoni can either go in with Robin Uthappa or Faf du Plessis as the second opener.
Suresh Raina – Raina has been instrumental in CSK’s dominance over the years. The southpaw is the second leading run-scorer in the history of the tournament. A decent performance from Raina will help CSK go a long way.
Predicted Playing XI – Robin Uthappa/Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf Du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C and WK), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali/Imran Tahir, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar
Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan will form an explosive opening pair that’ll be followed by Steve Smith, Rishabh Pant, Marcus Stonis and Shimron Hetmyer. While Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje are their lead pacers, their participation in the first game is not certain.
Prithvi Shaw – Shaw had a disastrous last season of the IPL but his recent form has been nothing short of extraordinary. The opener shattered records in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and scored over 800 runs. If he can carry his form to the IPL, Delhi will be a hard nut to crack.
Predicted Playing XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Steve Smith, Rishabh Pant (C and WK), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Kagiso Rabada/ Chris Woakes/Anrich Nortje, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma