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IPL 2024: Four things to look out for in the opening weekend

The 17th edition of the Indian Premier League returns this weekend with some mouth-watering matchups

IPL defending champions Chennai Super Kings will be favourite again this year.(PTI)

By Sumit Chakraberty

LAST PUBLISHED 20.03.2024  |  07:30 AM IST

The 17th edition of the IPL (Indian Premier League) gets under way on Friday, 22 March, in Chennai. One thing that’s unchanged from the first one in 2008, is that M.S. Dhoni still leads Chennai Super Kings (CSK). The maestro, who turns 43 in July, is aiming for a sixth title.

The defending champions’ first encounter is with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), led by another veteran who was Dhoni’s teammate earlier— South African Faf du Plessis. He turns 40 in July. The RCB men, who have never won an IPL title, will hope to emulate their women who won season 2 of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) on Sunday.

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Both RCB and CSK have exciting new talent. Before this year’s auction, Mumbai Indians (MI) traded Australian all-rounder Cameron Green to RCB. Green comes into IPL 2024 after a hard-hitting 174 not out in a Test in New Zealand earlier this month. Meanwhile, CSK is likely to field both their new Kiwi all-rounders, Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell, who made a strong impression during the ODI World Cup in India last year. What works for CSK is that the Chennai wicket will suit their spin-oriented attack.

Rabada vs. Nortje in Mullanpur

All eyes will be on Delhi Capitals (DC) captain Rishabh Pant who returns to action in the first game of Saturday’s double-header, after his accident in December 2022. DC will take on Punjab Kings (PBKS) at the new Maharaja Yadavindra Singh Stadium in Mullanpur, Mohali. IPL watchers will be curious to see how the pitch here compares with the one in Mohali Stadium.

The Aussie pair of David Warner and Mitchell Marsh will be the mainstay of the DC batting. The Indian spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel will anchor the bowling, with South Africa’s Anrich Nortje as pace spearhead. Nortje’s South African bowling partner, Kagiso Rabada, will lead the attack for the rivals, PBKS. It will be a treat to watch Rabada bowling to Pant on his first outing in IPL 2024. All of India will hold their breath, hoping to see the familiar swish of Pant’s bat.

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Starc vs. Cummins at Eden Gardens

The evening show in Saturday’s double-header pits Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH). KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer, whose vulnerability to bodyline bowling is well-known, will face a sterner test in this IPL edition. That’s because of the change in IPL rules to allow two bouncers an over, up from just one. KKR’s big-hitter, Andre Russell, will also be challenged by this rule change.

But KKR can dish out mean bouncers too, with the acquisition of Aussie speedster Mitchell Starc for a whopping  24.75 crore. Starc will be mixing up the bouncers with his swinging yorkers, and could be a handful at the Eden Gardens under lights.

SRH, finishing at the bottom of the table last year, has a new captain in Starc’s Aussie bowling mate, Pat Cummins. That’s the beauty of the IPL: Rabada and Nortje on opposite sides in Saturday’s first game, while Starc and Cummins face off in the second one. 


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The induction of Travis Head, hero of the ODI World Cup final last year in Ahmedabad, strengthens the SRH team. With South Africa’s Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen also in the squad, it will be interesting to see the choice of playing 11.

Clash of pacers in Jaipur

Sunday afternoon in Jaipur promises a well-matched contest between Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Lucknow Super Giants (LSG). RR have the luxury of three wicketkeeper-batsmen of note: skipper Sanju Samson, Englishman Jos Buttler, and young Dhruv Jurel, who starred in India’s Ranchi Test win over England last month. Two of them will likely play as specialist batsmen. Two West Indian power-hitters, Shimron Hetmyer and Rovman Powell, and India’s Test opener, Yashasvi Jaiswal, who scored two double-centuries against England, give RR enviable batting resources.

Both teams have top-level spinners: Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal for RR, and Ravi Bishnoi and Krunal Pandya for LSG. But the Jaipur pitch has traditionally favoured pacers. So RR will hope for early strikes from their experienced Kiwi swing bowler, Trent Boult. LSG, on the other hand, have brought in the latest pace sensation from the West Indies, Shamar Joseph, who will have his IPL debut. Avesh Khan of RR and Mohsin Khan of LSG will also hope to make a good start to their IPL season at this pace-friendly venue.

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Pandya vs. Gill in Ahmedabad

The weekend closes with an intriguing clash between Gujarat Titans (GT) and Mumbai Indians (MI) in Ahmedabad. Hardik Pandya, who led GT to two back-to-back finals, will now lead MI against the franchise that first gave him IPL captaincy. He takes over the MI captaincy from Rohit Sharma, who led the franchise to five titles after Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting passed the baton to him. 

On the flip side, Pandya’s exit from GT has opened the door for young Shubman Gill to take over and show his leadership mettle. On paper, with the return of Pandya and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, MI appear to be the stronger side. But GT have a reputation for punching above their weight. 

GT’s Afghan spin duo of Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad, leg-spinners who are mirror images of each other, will enjoy bowling on the Ahmedabad pitch. And in Gill, Kane Williamson, and David Miller, they have pedigree in batting.

The match-ups in the first weekend of IPL 2024 are mouth-watering: Dhoni vs. Faf, Rabada vs. Nortje, Starc vs. Cummins, Boult vs. Shamar Joseph, and Hardik Pandya vs. Gill. As friends turn foes and vice versa, we’re in for two months of the world’s best league cricket studded with stars. And our appetite has already been whetted with a brilliant WPL, where Smriti Mandhana took RCB to their maiden title with two nerve-wracking wins at the finish over MI and DC.

Sumit Chakraberty is a writer based in Bengaluru.

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