Not many would have anticipated Ravindra Jadeja and Shreyas Iyer walking out for the toss of the Indian Premier League opener between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, a repeat of the previous edition’s final as per the IPL convention.
While M. S. Dhoni formally handed over the reins to Jadeja two days before Saturday’s opening fixture, Shreyas took over after the Knight Riders won the battle of bids in the auction enclosure. It will be interesting to see how Jadeja, the most expensive of the four retained CSK cricketers, juggles between his duties as his team's lead all-rounder and his duties as the captain, of course with the man behind the wickets lending the much-needed support.
Missing key players
Both the teams are going to miss some of their key players. While the Knight Riders will be without Australia’s Test captain Pat Cummins for the first three games, Kiwi veteran Tim Southee will not be available for the tournament opener. Confirming Southee’s unavailability, KKR head coach Brendon McCullum indicated that the team will look for an alternative Indian pacer.
It may result in Umesh Yadav getting a game at the start of his second stint with KKR.
The Super Kings also have to deal with absentees in a bid to defend their crown. With Deepak Chahar set to miss a majority of the IPL, CSK management is considering whether to draft in Rajvardhan Hangargekar or Tushar Deshpande in his place for the opener. While Hangargekar has the advantage of being an all-rounder, Deshpande has the advantage of being familiar with the set-up as a net bowler in UAE last year and the conditions, having plied his trade in and around Mumbai since his formative years.
CSK also has to cope with Moeen Ali’s absence on Saturday as the England all-rounder joined the squad late due to visa problems.
Irrespective of the personnel, the two captains with the team sheet in their hand for the toss around dusk will surely signify the dawn of a new era in IPL.