He started IPL 2021 as a surprise package for the yellow army. By the end of the tournament, he was one of the chief architects of Chennai Super Kings’ fourth IPL title.

No wonder then that Moeen Ali was dearly missed by Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2022 opener versus Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday. Come Thursday, the England all-rounder will be eager to make a mark and inspire his team-mates against Lucknow Super Giants at the Brabourne Stadium.

Moeen arrived in India late due to an inexplicable delay in the processing of his visa. As a result, despite checking in to the Super Kings hotel at Marine Drive, Moeen was unavailable for the opener since every new entrant for the IPL has to serve a mandatory three-day quarantine before entering the biosecure bubble.

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Having joined his team-mates for a couple of nets sessions, Moeen will keen on carrying on his stupendous form in the second half of IPL in UAE last year. With his return, the Super Kings batting unit appears to be a dominant force. He will likely replace Mitchell Santner in the playing eleven.

After failing to fire at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, the Super Kings batters will be hoping to put up a better performance against the IPL newcomers on Thursday. Besides, the management will also be hoping for Tushar Deshpande and Adam Milne to strike with the ball in the Powerplay.

Redoubtable opening pair

If the fresh new-ball combination does not strike, then the dangerous opening combination of K. L. Rahul and Quinton de Kock will surely make the Super Kings pay. Having started its campaign off on a wrong note, the LSG camp will be looking forward to Rahul and de Kock to set the template after faltering against Mohammed Shami’s scintillating spell on Monday.

Besides the opening duo, Ayush Badoni - the diminutive batter who has been referred to as “Baby AB” by his captain - will also be in the glare after his exceptional fifty on debut versus Gujarat Titans.