IPL 2019 opener: All roads lead to Chennai where Dhoni’s veterans take on Kohli’s red armyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/ipl/ipl-2019-csk-vs-rcb-chennai-super-kings-royal-challengers-bangalore-ms-dhoni-virat-kohli-chepauk-5638692/

IPL 2019 opener: All roads lead to Chennai where Dhoni’s veterans take on Kohli’s red army

IPL 2019, CSK v RCB: Virat Kohli's first hurdle to an elusive title is to break the Chepauk drought. RCB have battled CSK at their own den 7 times and surprisingly could win just one match.

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MS Dhoni from Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Virat Kohli from Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) share a light moment at a practice session ahead of IPL 2019, in Chennai. (PTI Photo)

The Indian Premier League 2019 will kickstart its 12th season on Friday with the blockbuster encounter between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the MA Chidambaram stadium. While the CSK have seasoned veterans led by MS Dhoni, RCB can be described as under-achievers as they failed to win a single title despite having two of the biggest match-winners in skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.

Royal Challengers Bangalore at a practice session ahead of IPL 2019, in Chennai. (PTI Photo)

In 2018, both the teams had contrasting fortunes. CSK went on to lift their third IPL crown whereas RCB languished at the sixth spot in the points table. Hence, both the teams will be gunning for a perfect start in the new season.

The two teams-

History will rate CSK as the firm favourites as the yellow brigade has won six consecutive matches against the red army. Last time, RCB beat CSK was on 18th May 2014.

But for Dhoni, CSK is an extended family and once again he has a legacy to defend. This could well be his last seven games at the Chepauk where CSK fans will get to watch their beloved ‘Thala’ in his canary yellow jersey.

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For Kohli, on the contrary, the first hurdle to an elusive title is to break the Chepauk drought. RCB have battled CSK at their own den 7 times and surprisingly could win just one match.

On paper, both the sides look complete with a strong Indian core. CSK’s core members are the oldest in IPL 2019: Dhoni and Shane Watson are 37, Dwayne Bravo is 35, Faf du Plessis is 34, Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav are 33, and Suresh Raina will turn 32 soon.

While the home team has a well-balanced look to its side, RCB is facing concerns over the availability of some foreign players at certain stages of the tournament. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal along with Kohli and ABD will again be the key men for RCB. The absence of seasoned Indian seamers could haunt them later on in the tournament.

Personal milestones will also be on the cards as Suresh Raina and Kohli aim to reach the 5,000 run-mark in IPL. Raina with 4985 runs is 15 shy while Kohli is 52 runs away with 4948 runs.

Suresh Raina is 15 runs shy from the 5,000 run-mark.

Pitch Report: The pitch at MA Chidambaram Stadium is expected to be a placid surface. Assistance to spinners will be minimal at the start of the tournament.

Squads-

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli(captain), AB de Villiers, Parthiv Patel, Shimron Hetmyer, Devdutt Padikkal, Heinrich Klaasen, Himmat Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal, Marcus Stoinis, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Pawan Negi, Washington Sundar, Shivam Dube, Milind Kumar, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Prayas Barman, Akshdeep Nath, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kulwant Khejroliya, Tim Southee, Mohammed Siraj, Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni(captain), Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Ambati Rayudu, Dhruv Shorey, N Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shane Watson, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, David Willey, Kedar Jadhav, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi, Mohit Sharma, KM Asif, Monu Kumar.