The Indian Premier League 2019 is all set to go. Royal Challengers Bangalore will start things off against Chennai Super Kings in what is expected to be a packed MA Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday, March 23 as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni go head-to-head.
It’s also a chance for Bangalore to get ahead of Chennai, which isn’t always the case. Dhoni’s side have won three IPL titles over the years, and are one of the most successful teams in the format. Kohli is still searching for his first IPL winners’ medal.
Typically with the IPL, there’s been plenty happening elsewhere, including last-minute injuries and withdrawals, a war of words, and plenty of unabashed excitement.
— Royal Challengers (@RCBTweets) March 22, 2019
Virat Kohli’s captaincy. “I don’t see him as a shrewd captain,” Gautam Gambhir had said about Virat Kohli on a Star Sports show. “I don’t see him as a tactful captain [tactician]. And he hasn’t won the IPL. So ultimately, a captain is only as good as his record.”
Kohli wasn’t as belligerent in his response – just last week, he had conceded that Bangalore had failed to win the trophy because of bad decision-making at crucial times. And he reiterated that, to an extent.
“If I think like people from outside, I can’t even sustain five games,” he said on the eve of the IPL opener. “I would be sitting at home. I know people talk about it a lot and they like to grab opportunities to talk about these things. But I have a responsibility here and given a chance, as a captain, I would love to win the IPL for my team. We all are motivated to do so.”
Kohli and Gambhir have history. In 2013, the two nearly came to blows on the field and had to be separated by team-mates. Kohli, at the time, was dismissed and apparently said something while walking back to the dressing room that Gambhir didn’t take too kindly.
The incessant injuries. The IPL is yet to start, but there’s already been a few dampening injuries, most of them pacemen. The South African pair of Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje have been ruled out after sustaining a side strain and a shoulder injury respectively.
Lasith Malinga will miss Mumbai Indians’ first six games – he is off to take part in Sri Lanka’s domestic one-day cup. Mumbai have been further hampered by the loss of Adam Milne who, according to ESPNcricinfo, has a swollen heel and has pulled out of the tournament.
This could mean that replacements will be sought – and perhaps the likes of Dale Steyn might yet feature in the tournament this year.
What they said
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) March 21, 2019
“Being able to stand up to pressure situations and recall how you dealt with them in the past is a key component in a fast-moving game. Our players are still very skilful but that experience [of having played these games before] counts. I value that a lot. The methods in which you win or compete are very important if you can keep repeating them.”
– Chennai coach Stephen Fleming subtly reminding Bangalore that they haven’t beaten Chennai since 2014.
What they didn’t say
“I don’t care about the IPL. Bring on the third round of Brexit votes!”