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CSK vs RCB, IPL 2024: Return of Virat Kohli, Gaikwad dons new role – 5 players to watch out for in blockbuster opener

Virat Kohli will return to action and Ruturaj Gaikwad will take up a new role as CSK face RCB in the IPL 2024 opener, on Friday.

IPL 2024 beckons us all as defending champions Chennai Super Kings face Royal Challengers Bangalore in the season opener, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. In the tournament’s history, both sides have faced each other 31 times, with CSK leading 20-10 in terms of head-to-head. Also in their last five meetings, CSK have an upper hand with a 4-1 lead.

CSK will take on RCB in the IPL 2024 opener.

The IPL 2024 opener will also see Ruturaj Gaikwad perform captaincy duties, having replaced MS Dhoni as CSK skipper. Last season, CSK defeated Gujarat Titans in the final, equalling Mumbai Indians’ record haul of five IPL titles. Devon Conway was in hot batting form, smacking 672 runs in 16 matches and also finished third in the Orange Cap race. Meanwhile, Tushar Deshpande shone with the ball, taking 21 wickets in 16 outings.

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Also Read | ‘MS Dhoni must have told Ruturaj last year’: Ashwin’s major claim after Gaikwad named CSK captain in last-minute switch

Meanwhile, RCB didn’t even make it to the playoffs, finishing sixth in the 10-team standings. Despite failing to reach the playoffs, RCB had some positives in the batting department as captain Faf du Plessis finished second in the Orange Cap race with 730 runs in 14 matches. Meanwhile, Virat Kohli was fourth with 639 runs.

Here are the five key players to watch out for in the CSK vs RCB IPL 2024 opener:

5. Rachin Ravindra

New Zealand all-rounder Rachin Ravindra was acquired by CSK for ₹1.8 crore at the IPL 2024 auction. This will be his debut IPL season, and he will be looking to make his mark. Considered to be among the best cricketers currently, the 24-year-old was one of the best performers at the 2023 ODI World Cup. During the tournament, he became the first batter in World Cup history to get three tons on his WC debut. He also broke Sachin Tendulkar’s record of most centuries before the age of 24 years.

A key cog in New Zealand playing XI, Ravindra will be looking to replicate his international form for CSK. In 20 T20Is, he has registered 214 runs, including a half-century. Meanwhile, he has taken 11 T20I wickets. It will be interesting to see where Gaikwad slots him in batting order.

4. Alzarri Joseph

During the IPL 2024 auction, RCB broke the bank for Alzarri Joseph, purchasing him for ₹11.50 crores. The West Indies pacer has been patchy in his IPL career, taking 20 wickets in 19 appearances. But his 6/12 against SRH in 2019 was a sensational performance.

With Lockie Ferguson and Mohammed Siraj in RCB, he will need to fight for the other pacer spot with the likes of Reece Topley and Akash Deep. If included in the playing XI for the opener, he will looking to justify his massive price tag.

3. Ruturaj Gaikwad

IPL 2024 will see a new dimension to Ruturaj Gaikwad’s playing style, due to the added responsibility of captaincy. He will be opening CSK’s innings, and has a good record against both Alzarri Joseph and Lockie Ferguson. Against Joseph, he has registered 47 off 25 deliveries and has been dismissed once. Meanwhile, against Ferguson, he has smacked 56 off 29 balls and hasn’t been dismissed by the pacer in IPL history.

It will also be important to see how he sets up his field, but will have plenty of help with the likes of MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja present to give him a lending hand.

2. Virat Kohli

It is another IPL season and Virat Kohli will once again seek his maiden title in the tournament history. The RCB star’s record against spin in Chennai in powerplay is not that good. He has only managed to register 15 runs off 23 balls and has also been dismissed twice. It will be important for him to get a good start while batting, as he is expected to open with Faf du Plessis for RCB.

Kohli is also 73 runs away from overtaking Shikhar Dhawan (1057) as the highest run-scorer against CSK in the IPL. The former RCB captain has registered 985 runs against Chennai in IPL history.

1. MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni will be taking up a new role for CSK this season. But this has already happened before when Ravindra Jadeja took over as captain. But it didn’t really work out as the all-rounder had to hand over the duties to Dhoni once again.

Dhoni will be returning to action after nearly a year, after undergoing knee surgery following IPL 2023. The decision by CSK to award Gaikwad with captaincy will see the pressure reduced on Dhoni, who could have a bigger impact with the bat this season. The move has also opened a vast number of possibilities for CSK, where we could also see Dhoni used as an Impact Player.


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