While CSK have won three IPL titles in the past, RCB enter the tournament as the biggest underachievers having not won a single IPL title
The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off on March 23 with a blockbuster opening match between last year’s winners Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at Chennai.
While CSK have won three IPL titles, RCB enter the tournament as the biggest underachievers having not won a single IPL title despite having the likes of AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli on board.
India’s showpiece T20 tournament this year will be played in the shadow of the 2019 General Elections and with the World Cup looming in the horizon. However, this isn’t expected to stifle the excitement of having some of the top cricketers in the world battle it out for the coveted trophy.
CSK returned to the IPL last year after a two-year ban and wasted no time in getting back to winning ways. The MS Dhoni-led team was branded ‘Dad’s Army’ due to their ageing squad but the veterans proved their worth with a dominant run to the title. Chennai retained 22 players from their winning squad for this season and added Mohit Sharma and Ruturaj Gaikwad to bolster their squad.
RCB, on the other hand, have never won the IPL title despite reaching the finals thrice in 2009, 2011 and 2016. Bangalore didn’t even make it into the Playoffs last year after finishing sixth on the table. Kohli and his team will be eager to put the past behind them and make a winning start to the tournament.
Timing – 8 pm
Venue – MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Where to watch – Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD
Head to head: CSK have the upper hand coming into the game having won 15 matches and lost just seven with one no-result. RCB’s last victory over CSK was way back in 2014.
Earlier this week, CSK faced a setback in the form of an injury to South African pacer Lungi Ngidi which ruled him out of the IPL. Apart from this, both teams have no injury concerns ahead of the tournament opener. We can expect the sides to field an extra spinner on a spin-friendly Chepauk track.
Prediction: who will win?
The last time that RCB managed to get the better of CSK was way back in 2014 while the last time that they managed to win at the Chepauk was in 2008. Chennai should get off to a winning start but it won’t be easy against a Bangalore side who will provide stiff opposition.
Betting odds (Bet365) -
Chennai Super Kings: 4/5
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1
Other popular bets can be checked on Oddschecker.com.
M.A. Chidambaram Stadium Pitch Report: The players will have to be wary of the spinners at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium which offers rampant turn. However, the ball does come onto the bat well and we could be in for a high-scoring encounter if the spinners fail to deliver.
Moneycontrol Dream XI: Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Shimron Hetmyer, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Umesh Yadav and Tim Southee.
Players to watch out for:
The CSK skipper hasn’t been at the top of his game off late as he struggled to connect with the big shots and mostly played the role of an anchor for India. However, last season Dhoni rolled back the years during the IPL and CSK fans will be hoping ‘Thala’ once again rediscovers his best form during the tournament.
King Kohli has had his credentials as an effective captain questioned by Gautam Gambhir this week who pointed out to the fact that RCB haven’t managed to win the IPL under Kohli’s leadership. The RCB skipper will be eager to make a point and a win over the reigning champions will give his team the perfect start to their campaign.