IPL 2018: Mumbai Indians to play Chennai Super Kings in opener
The 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) promises to start with a bang with defending champions Mumbai Indians facing MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings in the opening match on April 7 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
The venues for eliminator and qualifier 2 have not been confirmed yet while the qualifier 1 and the final will be played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 22 and 27 respectively.
No change in match timing
Also, despite several earlier reports, the match timings have not been changed. The evening matches in IPL 2018 will start from 8 pm. There will be 48 evening matches and 12 afternoon starts at the 2018 IPL.
The IPL governing council had last month accepted the broadcaster Star Sports’ request to shift the timings of the matches. The broadcaster had recommended that the second match of the day start at 7pm instead of the earlier 8pm, while pushing 4pm match to a 5.30pm start.
However, a section of franchises who are 50 percent stakeholders in the IPL revenue model, expressed their grievances with the change in timings as it was done without consulting them.
CSK, RR’s return
The Dhoni-led side are two-time IPL champions and are returning to the fold after a two-year gap, along with Rajasthan Royals. Both teams served a two-year suspension over their officials’ alleged involvement in betting on matches of their own teams.
Rajasthan Royals will play their opening match against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on April 9. The Shane Warne-coached Royals’ first home game in Jaipur is on April 11 against Delhi Daredevils.
Apart from the eight home cities of the respective franchises, Indore will host three matches of Kings XI Punjab. The Madhya Pradesh city was host to KXIP’s matches in 2017 too.
The first week of the IPL will witness another high-profile clash with Kolkata Knight Riders facing Royals Challengers Bangalore at home on April 8. On the same day, Delhi Daredevils will face Kings XI Punjab at the former’s home.
Most of the franchises this time has a rejigged line-up after a costly auction where teams did not shy away from loosening their purse strings.
Ben Stokes emerged as the costliest player (Rs 12.5 crore) and Jayadev Unadkat was the costliest Indian player (Rs 11.5 crore). Both of them were roped in by Rajasthan Royals.
However, Stokes’ participation is still in doubt over as he faces trial for a brawl outside a pub in Bristol a few months ago.
Stokes will not be the only player in focus. Gautam Gambhir, the 36-year-old who had led Kolkata Knight Riders to two titles in his seven-year stay but not retained this time, was bought by Delhi Daredevils. He will most likely to lead the side.
However, Gambhir’s departure from Kolkata Knight Riders have left a void at the captain’s slot in the Shah Rukh Khan-owned team. Andre Russell, Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik are the likely choices for leading the two-time champions.