IPL 2019: Kohli, Rayudu, Dhoni stop time at Chepauk

Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore lit up the IPL opener practice session at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday.

Virat Kohli opted to play football before picking up the bat at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Thursday.   -  K. PICHUMANI

Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore upped the ante two days before the start of the Indian Premier League with an intense practice session at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday. The focus was top notch as batsmen and bowlers from both the camps took turns to flex their muscles.

RCB was the first to arrive and while the majority of players opted to warm up with a game of football, Moeen Ali and Shimron Hetmyer went to the practice pitches for throwdowns.

The CSK team joined soon after and Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli exchanged pleasantries before getting back to business. Mohit Sharma and Shardul Thakur bowled to Deepak Chahar at length, occasionally beating the batsman and testing the right-hander with short-pitched stuff.

Hetmyer soon moved to the main ground and took throwdowns from the RCB support staff while CSK duo of Murali Vijay and Chaitanya Bishnoi faced the net bowlers, spin and pace in tandem at the practice pitches. 

The big moment of the evening came when Kohli padded up and carted the RCB bowlers into the stands. While he repeatedly targetted the mid-wicket fence with ease, some balls landed in the upper tier, above the pavilion.  Buoyed by Kohli's hitting, CSK's Ambati Rayudu too found the distance a couple of times. He sent the spinners — Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja — into the stands.

It was then Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina's turn to get to fielding, indulging in a catch practice and a fielding session at the ropes.  Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson had a hit and a bowl but all eyes were then fixed on Dhoni, who spent the maximum time at the nets honing his skills in style.

Missing out from the session was Mitchell Santner, Faf du Plessis and Imran Tahir who are expected to arrive in Chennai on Friday.