Indian Premier League Preview
Delhi franchise ended runners-up last season
MUMBAI, April 9: 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 square off in an IPL match here on Saturday, with both sides aiming for a winning start to their campaign.
The Delhi franchise ended runners-up last season in the UAE and would be aiming to go one better this time and a good start would be what they will be looking for.
Three-time champions CSK had a forgettable season last year, finishing at seventh out of eight teams and they would also be seeking a winning start in their bid to make amends of a poor IPL 2020.
Keeper-batsman Pant, anointed to captaincy in the absence of injured Shreyas Iyer, has said recently that he would put his learning from Dhoni to use in DC’s season opener.
“My first match 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’ll apply my own experience and learning from him,” Pant had said recently.
Delhi’s strong batting line up of Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith and Pant himself will look to fire on all cylinders right from the opening game.
Dhawan (618 runs) was the second highest run-scorer in IPL 2020 and looked in good touch in the recent ODI series against England. He would be raring to go this season.
Shaw will be itching to prove his worth after amassing 827 runs in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. It is most likely that Shaw and Dhawan would open.
Captain Pant, a hard-hitting batsman, is in the form of his life, having emerged as a match-winner for India in the series against Australia and England. He would like to continue his good run.
The Delhi team also possesses the likes of all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer and Sam Billings but will have to get their team combination right, as only four overseas players can feature in the playing XI.
They have enough options to choose from the battery of pacers comprising Ishant Sharma, Kagiso Rabada, Umesh Yadav, Chris Woakes and Anrich Nortje.
Even if the South African duo of Rabada and Nortje misses out the first game as they joined the team just a few days back, DC have enough firepower and experience in the bowling department.
Also, playing a key role on a sluggish Wankhede track would be the spinners – Ravichandran Ashwin and Amit Mishra, though Axar Patel will not be available as he tested positive for COVID-19 last Saturday.
On the other hand, Chennai will be bolstered by the return of the experienced batsman Suresh Raina, who is their all-time leading run-scorer, with 5,368 runs.
Match starts: 7.30 PM.