Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the opening match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on March 22.

Let’s have a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both the teams ahead of the mega event.

MS Dhoni’s Yellow Brigade look like a formidable unit with depth in their ranks. Almost all the players in the team have international experience. Moreover, they know their job well on how to deliver at crucial junctures. CSK have almost everything in their favour. They are a great team and they have the home advantage in their favour as they will play their opening match at Chepauk. The tournament could be an ideal platform for Dhoni’s swansong.

The fear factor the team generates against the opposition is awesome and the opponents often wilt under pressure.

However, the team is grappling with too many injury issues. CSK will miss the service of their No.1 bowler Matheesha Pathirana. The Yellow Brigade will be desperate to have their death bowler specialist back into the squad soon.

In yet another setback, CSK have recently suffered a massive injury blow. Bangladesh speedster Mustafizur Rahman was stretched off the field due to injury during the third ODI against Sri Lanka as he complained off a pain in his leg in the 10th over of the innings. He was unable to walk off by himself.

CSK are already a depleted side with so many injuries. While the team was banking a lot on Mustafizur in absence of Pathirana, injury to the key player at the crucial moment must hurt the team’s cause in the mega event. Under the circumstance, the bowling attack may lack a little bit of sting.

Earlier, CSK’s aggressive opener Devon Conway has been ruled out for at least the first half of the league. The New Zealand opener sustained a thumb injury during the recent T20I series against Australia and has missed the subsequent two-match Test series.

On the other hand, Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) would like to forget their poor run in the tournament and want to have a fresh start in IPL 2024. They have changed the name of the franchise and adopted a new jersey as well for the 17th edition of the mega event. With their women’s team winning the Women’s Premier League (WPL), there will be huge pressure on the men’s team to deliver in IPL 2024. Now the million dollar question is whether RCB will be able to cope up the pressure and end their title drought this time or not?

RCB have a very strong batting line up comprising Virat Kohli, Faf Du Plesis and Glenn Maxwell. They have also big hitters like Cameron Green and Rajat Patidar in their rank. Hence, the team will bank on their willow strength to outwit the opposition. Their top order has the ability to blow away any opposition with their attacking batting.

However, lack of quality spinners is their main concern. With leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga surprisingly released from the squad, RCB could not find his proper replacement. With leg-spinner Karn Sharma, Himanshu Sharma and part-timer Maxwell in their ranks, spin department looks weaker. Under the circumstance, the team is going to suffer in Indian condition which is often helpful for the spinners.

RCB will heavily bank on domestic pacers like Akash Deep and Vyshak Vijaykumar. As far as foreign recruits are concerned, they will rely on Alzarri Joseph and Reece Topley.

Most importantly, with question mark being raised over Virat Kohli’s place in India squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup due to his slow batting style, the star batter will look to up the ante and prove his critics wrong. Kohli will try his best to help RCB break their jinx in IPL and emerge champions this time.