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IPL 17: New Beginnings

CSK, Mumbai get new captains as Pant returns after over a year

IPL 17: New Beginnings

Chennai Super Kings’ MS Dhoni has passed on the baton to new captain Ruturaj Gaikwad. photos: PTI

New Delhi, March 21

The never-ending speculation surrounding Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s retirement, Virat Kohli’s 16-year drought, the second chance that life has offered Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma’s World Cup agony will make for intriguing sub-plots in the Indian Premier League (IPL) beginning tomorrow.

From left: LSG’s skipper KL Rahul, SRH’s Pat Cummins, PBKS’ vice-captain Jitesh Sharma, KKR’s Shreyas Iyer (sitting), CSK’s Ruturaj Gaikwad, DC’s Rishabh Pant, MI’s Hardik Pandya (sitting), RCB’s Faf du Plessis, GT’s Shubman Gill and RR’s Sanju Samson with the trophy. PTI

Known to do the unexpected, Dhoni stepped down as Chennai Super Kings’ captain on the eve of the IPL opener against Royal Challengers Bengaluru, handing over the reins to Ruturaj Gaikwad, a man he mentored for the leadership role.

“We have been working hard to prepare leaders. We have been slow on life after MS Dhoni. But trusting the youngsters has paid off well for us. I have already had a word with the youngsters like Rutu about leadership and captaincy. It is a great opportunity for him to lead the team,” CSK coach Stephen Fleming said today.

Rs 24.75cr:  KKR’s Mitchell Starc, the costliest player, will look to live up to his hefty price tag 

Delhi Capitals’ Pant, back from the brink after a life-threatening accident, will be desperate to show the world that he can still hit those one-handed sixes with elan.

Rohit will be the last person to show his scars hidden behind his typical Mumbaikar nonchalance as he gets down to enjoying his evening dates at the Wankhede albeit without the captain’s title. The partisan crowd would, nonetheless, look forward to his trademark pull shots.

For other captains, they need to win the on-field games but Hardik Pandya needs to win the dressing room too. There will be seniors with bruised egos, knowing that a shot at leadership has bypassed them. They could well be difficult to handle.

As for Kohli, he would be in pursuit of that elusive jewel in his crown. By his own admission, he has been longing for a big title and his own passionate approach to the game would be a key factor in deciding whether the RCB men manage to emulate the women this year.

A bigger prize is also at stake for at least 10 to 12 other players, who will be vying for eight slots on the New York-bound flight that will take off at the end of May for the T20 World Cup in the USA and the Caribbean.

There will be unbelievable comebacks by some; a few new stars will emerge; there will also be those usual rags-to-riches stories and all of it could unfold in a matter of four minutes, the time it takes to deliver one over.

For foreign stars like Pat Cummins of Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Mitchell Starc of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who raked in big money during the auction, will shoulder a massive burden of expectations through the season.

For every six that they concede at the death or each yorker that turns into a full toss, the two will be reminded of salaries which are north of Rs 20 crore. “I think we’ve got a great mix. We’ve got a couple more experienced guys like Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar). Obviously, Aiden Markram was captain last year. But we’ve got some exciting young talent. I’m super excited to see guys like Abhishek (Sharma), Umran Malik. So, I think fans should be pretty pumped for the season ahead,” said Cummins. — PTI

Will CSK’s change of guard lead to dip in fortunes?

Chennai: The high-stakes match between cross-city rivals Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bengaluru here tomorrow will not only usher in the IPL 2024 but also a new dawn for the defending champions with iconic MS Dhoni handing over the captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad.

Dhoni is expected to retire at the end of this season and it seems the unanticipated move, just a day before the start of new season, has been taken for a smooth transition.

But beyond the emotional whirlpool, CSK and RCB will have to find some early answers to some big questions as they attempt to enter a rarefied territory.

CSK are five-time champions, and a sixth title will put them in a space where no team has entered so far.

On the other hand, RCB, who recently grabbed their maiden title through Women’s Premier League, will be eager to add a first IPL title to their cabinet.

CSK have been the torchbearers of success in the IPL under Dhoni, whose IPL career has reached its final chapter. While his cricketing brain is still immune to advancing years, time has sure caught up with his reflexes as a batsman. PTI

#Cricket #IPL #Mumbai #Rishabh Pant #Rohit Sharma #Virat Kohli

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