IPL 2019: Chennai Super Kings begin title defence at home to Royal Challengers Bangalore in opener

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The Indian Premier League is back and its 2019 edition kicks off with a scintillating match-up on Saturday.

Chennai Super Kings claimed their third title last season and get proceedings under way this time against Royal Challengers Bangalore who have been to three finals themselves only to suffer defeat at every one.

Virat Kohli‘s side will hope that this year will be different and lady luck may finally smile on them, but they couldn’t have been dealt a more difficult opening fixture.

Opposite Kohli stands the IPL’s most successful captain and one of the most decorated in limited overs cricket in MS Dhoni. Having lifted the trophy three times, the former India skipper will want to get them off to a winning start at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

RCB have recruited a few new faces and while the likes of the exciting Shimron Hetmyer look promising, the batting order is still very much anchored around the big two of Kohli and AB de Villiers.

The India captain has been in fine form across all formats of the game this year while the South African ace impressed with Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), scoring 218 runs at an impressive average of 54.50.

Meanwhile, having picked up 20 wickets last season, Umesh Yadav will have the responsibility of leading the bowling attack although Yuzvendra Chahal may be key in Chennai with the pitch favouring spinners.

CSK boast a phenomenal batting line-up. Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav join the league’s all-time highest scorer in Suresh Raina in their middle order while Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja ensure that their batting runs deep.

The dangerous Ambati Rayudu also tends to feature at the top of the order but it’s explosive opener Shane Watson who will command the spotlight. Fresh from his PSL exploits where he top scored with 430 runs in 12 innings at an average of 43, much will be expected of the veteran Australian.

Bravo and David Willey will have to lead the pace attack given Lungi Ndidi is unavailable but the onus will be on the spinners. Mitchell Santner, Jadeja and Karn Sharma need to step up and deliver, especially at home.

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Faf fu Plessis and Imran Tahir are expected to miss the match against RCB. As a result, Rayudu may join Watson in opening the innings. Willey is also due to join the squad later on.

LIKELY XIs

CSK: Watson, Rayudu, Raina, Dhoni (C&WK), Jadhav, Billings, Bravo, Jadeja, Chahar, Santner and Thakur.

RCB: Patel (WK), Virat(C), de Villiers, Hetmyer, Ali, Dube, Sundar, Southee, Umesh, Siraj and Chahal.

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