IPL 2021, CSK vs DC Preview: Apprentice vs Master as rookie Pant takes on 'the colossus' Dhoni
- The head-to-head of 15-8 is massively in favour of Dhoni's team but the Capitals completed a double over CSK last season and are definitely the more balanced side of the two.
The baton has been passed on to the next generation in Indian cricket, and young Rishabh Pant has slowly managed to get out of the monumentesque shadow of MS Dhoni. But the latter is still around in the Indian Premier League, and Pant will have to put all that he has learnt from Dhoni into the field when he takes on the master and his 'Yellow Brigade' as Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals open their respective seasons on Saturday.
The venue is neutral for both teams as they play at the Wankhede Stadium. The head-to-head of 15-8 is massively in favour of Dhoni's team but the Capitals completed a double over CSK last season and are definitely the more balanced side of the two.
They will miss their captain Shreyas Iyer and his calm presence in the middle but the team boasts of big Indian names like Shikhar Dhawan, newly appointed captain Pant and Ajinkya Rahane in the batting department.
The other big absence will be that of the South African bowling duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje, who will miss the match due to quarantine rules.
DC head coach Ricky Ponting might opt to open with Marcus Stoinis as he can provide momentum at the top of the order, which will in turn allow Shikhar Dhawan to drop anchor.
Steve Smith's addition is a huge positive and he can easily play the number 3 role, which was earlier assigned to Shreyas. The in-form Pant can be dangerous at 4 followed by the equally mercurial Shimron Hetmyer. Both these batsmen will love the short boundaries at the Wankhede.
The last overseas player's slot will be a toss-up between Tom Curran and Chris Woakes. Axar's covid situation is not known yet and if he doesn't play then the experienced duo of Ashwin and Amit Mishra will handle the spin duties while India pros Umesh and Ishant can lead with the new ball.
Dhoni's team looks far more settled with the return of the talismanic Suresh Raina, who has looked fresh and fit. Dhoni himself has tonked some big ones in practice matches but match fitness is something very different. Lack of match practice can make these two players rusty and that is where DC can benefit. Ambati Rayudu is another sure shot starter, and might take the number 4 slot.
The impressive Ruturaj Gaekwad is expected to open with the dependable Faf Du Plessis, and either can take the sheet anchor's role. The all-round trio of Dwayne Bravo, Sam Curran and Ravindra Jadeja will provide the much needed X-factor.
Shardul Takhur and Deepak Chahar are expected to take the new ball duies while Imran Tahir should walk into the XI with the tournament returning to India.
CSK need to get back their mojo against a Delhi side, who can blow hot and cold. Both teams have enough impact players and match winners to seal the deal. We expect a keen contest.