The opening match of IPL 2018 turned out to be a mini disaster for Mumbai Indians and India all-rounder Hardik Pandya after he was forced off the field after colliding with Chennai Super Kings’ Dwayne Bravo while batting in the the first innings in Mumbai.
Running hard for a two to mid-wicket off Bravo, Hardik – batting on 21 – turned in for a second but crashed into Bravo who was looking the other way at the bowler’s end. It was the last ball of the innings as Mumbai reached 165 for four.
Hardik was in considerable pain and had to be helped off the field. His fitness will be of great concern not only for Mumbai but the Indian team as well as he is a crucial member of the team in all formats with important tours of England and Australia line-up this year.
Hardik, surprisingly, bowled in Chennai’s chase and even picked up two wickets but struggled to walk properly throughout the night and then went off the field after bowling three overs.
Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils begin their IPL campaign on Sunday under new leadership, hoping to hit the ground running at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali.
The early game of the day (14:30 UAE time) will see Ravichandran Ashwin-led Punjab host the Daredevils, who will be captained by Gautam Gambhir. While Ashwin had earlier revealed he was disappointed at not being re-signed by Chennai Super Kings, Gambhir has said he is glad to be back at his home team after leading the Kolkata Knight Riders with distinction.
The Daredevils have lost one of their biggest assets – South African pacer Kagiso Rabada – to a back injury right before the start of the tournament. That has upset their calculations as Rabada was a guaranteed starter in every game. However, Delhi still have a potent bowling attack in Mohammed Shami, Amit Mishra, Trent Boult, Chris Morris and teenage leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane.
In the batting department, they have some outstanding overseas talent in Jason Roy and Colin Munro. The question is whether Delhi want to play more foreign bowlers or batsmen.
Punjab, on the other hand, have a problem of resources. Two of their big acquisitions – Yuvraj Singh and Chris Gayle – are well past their prime and they don’t have any recognised India batsmen apart from KL Rahul. Ashwin is leading the side, which is interesting as very few bowlers have captained IPL teams; Shane Warne being the biggest such name.
PLAYERS IN FOCUS
All-rounder Yuvraj Singh has been averaging around 250 runs in the last three seasons. He barely bowled last year. Punjab mentor Virender Sehwag has a lot of faith in Yuvraj and has said even if the southpaw can make the winning difference in a couple of matches, that would be enough for the franchise. Whether Yuvraj can raise his game at the age of 36 after slowly drifting away each season will decide how far Punjab go this season as he is one of the very few big Indian names in the team.
Daredevils pacer Shami has been through a lot in the last month. He was first accused of adultery and assault by his wife Hasin Jahan. After that he was accused by his wife of taking money from bookmakers, a charge that was dismissed by the Indian board. And later he suffered an accident while travelling by road that required multiple stitches on his head. How he puts all of that behind him and focuses on the cricket will be of great interest, not only for the franchise, but the national team management.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Yuvraj Singh, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Mohit Sharma, AJ Tye, Barinder Sran
Delhi Daredevils: Gautam Gambhir (c), Prithvi Shaw, Colin Munro, Shreyas Iyer, Jason Roy, Rishabh Pant, Chris Morris, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Trent Boult, Shahbaz Nadeem
This will be the “first stint” in the IPL for the 33-year-old Plunkett, the Daredevils said in announcing the signing.
Rabada had signed a $650,000 deal with the Daredevils, who open their IPL campaign on Sunday against Kings XI Punjab. But he has been ruled out of cricket for up to three months with a back stress fracture.
Yorkshire bowler Plunkett was picked from a pool of available replacements. He has played in 13 Tests, 65 one-day internationals and 15 T20 internationals for England.
The eight-team, seven-week IPL starts on Saturday when defending champions the Mumbai Indians take on Chennai Super Kings.
— Delhi Daredevils (@DelhiDaredevils) April 7, 2018