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Rachin Ravindra’s grand IPL entry in Ruturaj Gaikwad’s captaincy debut, where will MS Dhoni bat? CSK likely XI vs RCB

IPL 2024, CSK vs RCB: What will be Chennai Super Kings XI be like in their touranment opener against the Royal Challengers Bengaluru?

Uncertainty is the only certainty when it comes to reading MS Dhoni’s next move. Nobody actually knows what’s going on inside the legendary cricketer’s head, not even Chennai Super Kings CEO Kasi Viswanathan. He reportedly came to about Dhoni’s decision to hand over the captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad just before the captain’s photograph on Thursday. And going by the history of Dhoni’s major announcements, he could well have finalised this decision by the end of last season. But he didn’t let anyone know. He waited till the eve of the IPL 2024 opener against the Royal Challengers Bangalore to make the announcement.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain Ruturaj Gaikwad with teammate MS Dhoni during a training session(PTI)

Captain or not, the spotlight will always be on Dhoni. He is, after all, set to play his first cricket match since the last edition’s IPL final. There will be another superstar of Indian cricket who will be making a comeback of his own. Virat Kohli, the RCB legend, will be playing his first match since the Afghanistan T20Is earlier this year. He missed the entire five-match Test series against England due to the birth of his second child.

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Then there is Ravindra Jadeja and the prospect of RCB captain Faf du Plessis coming up against a franchise that made him a household name in India. Friday’s CSK vs RCB encounter is more than just the curtain-raiser for the 17th edition of the world’s richest cricket league.

What must be going through Gaikwad’s mind? He has been in and out of the Indian side but in IPL, he has quickly risen to be a giant of the CSK setup. He has prior experience of leading Maharashtra in the domestic games but IPL will surely be a different ballgame. Of Course, he will have Dhoni, Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane to guide him. But he would need to carve a path of his own.

His first task will be to help CSK pick a balanced XI for the match against RCB. It will be played at CSK’s fortress Chepauk, which is generally known to assist the slower bowlers and CSK have plenty of options in Jadeja, Rachin Ravindra, Moeen Ali and Meheesh Theekshana.

But CSK have their share of injury problems – Devon Conway is all but ruled out of the tournament. Pacer Matheesha Pathirana is not available for the first few matches and Shivam Dube is just returning from an injury.

For Conway, CSK have Ravindra, who can also chip in with the ball. Ravindra’s IPL debut seems certain. He will open with captain Gaikwad.

Rahane will bat at 3. Moeen Ali, Shivam Dube, Jadeja and Dhoni make a solid middle-order. In Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur, CSK have two experienced Indian pacers who can contribute with the bat. Theekshana is their lead spinner. The only decision they have to make is the fourth overseas player. Daryl Mitchell seems to be the frontrunner at the moment but don’t count out the possibility of Mustafizur Rahman.

CSK Likely XI (If they bat first): 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad (capt), 2 Rachin Ravindra, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 MS Dhoni (wk), 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Maheesh Theekshana

CSK Likely XI (If they bowl first): 1 Ruturaj Gaikwad (capt), 2 Rachin Ravindra, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 MS Dhoni (wk), 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Tushar Deshpande

Impact Player options: Shivam Dube, Tushar Deshpande, Mukesh Choudhary, Mitchell Santner.

Dube, who is coming back from an injury might play only as a batter so he is likely to be an Impact Player if CSK chase. If CSK bat first, then Deshpande is likely to be the preferred Impact Player as a specialist bowler.


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