In a repeat of last season’s final, and what should be an entertaining clash, Ravindra Jadeja Chennai Super Kings will open their title defence against Shreyas Iyer’s Kolkata Knight Riders. Both sides will doubtless have high hopes of a successful campaign and will be desperate to get off to a winning start. But who will come out on top? Read on for our full Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders preview and prediction:
Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders Preview and Prediction
2021 IPL Campaign
CSK were not an entirely dominant force throughout the 2021 IPL season, but they did finish second in the points table with nine wins from their 14 games despite having lost their last three. If that left them short of momentum heading into the playoffs, however, that did not show. They booked their place in the final at the first of asking with a four-wicket win over Delhi Capitals before recording a largely comfortable win over KKR to win their fourth IPL title.
KKR, meanwhile, struggled badly in the first leg of the IPL in India, but they came alive in the UAE. They won five of their last seven matches to secure their spot in the playoffs, ending their round-robin campaign with a crushing win over Rajasthan Royals. They backed that up in the eliminator to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore, before edging out the Delhi Capitals in a final-ball thriller. But they fell short against CSK when it mattered most in the final.
Ruturaj Gaikwad will likely open the batting for CSK, with New Zealand’s Devon Conway a possible partner for him at the top of the order. Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu and Moeen Ali are middle-order options for Chennai, with Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni the best options at six and seven. Both men are very capable finishers. They may also wish to find a place for Shivam Dube. Dwayne Bravo, Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Adam Milne will likely round out the side.
Venkatesh Iyer will hope to recapture his fine form at the top of the order, with Ajinkya Rahane perhaps set to partner him at the top. Captain Shreyas Iyer will bat at three with Nitish Rana and keeper-batsman Baba Indrajith at four and five. Andre Russell will bat at six, with the hard-hitting Sunil Narine at seven and Chamika Karunaratne at eight in Pat Cummins’ absence. Shivam Mavi, Umesh Yadav and Varun Chakravarthy will complete KKR’s XI.
There is not a great deal in this on paper. But Chennai look to have the more complete team at this point of time. The CSK middle order looks considerably stronger than Kolkata’s. The Knight Riders probably have the edge with the ball, but T20 cricket tends to be decided by what the batsman do. If that principle holds, expect Jadeja and Dhoni to provide Chennai Super Kings with a decisive advantage in this IPL opener.
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