March 23 is finally here and the Indian Premier League is about to start off with the defending champions Chennai Super Kings taking on Royal Challengers Bangalore. Led by MS Dhoni, CSK is arguably one of the most successful clubs in the history of the IPL. Virat Kohli, on the other hand, is yet to win an IPL title as captain of RCB. The encounter will take place in Chennai and CSK has a squad that is almost the same as the one which won the title last year. Both teams are among the most competitive ones in the tournament. CSK has always been the team to beat while RCB are tough opponents. Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.
Chennai Super Kings
Batting is probably the biggest strengths for MS Dhoni’s team. The men in yellow have the likes of Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Sam Billings, Dwayne Bravo and Suresh Raina to lead an assault to any bowling battery. The middle order has MS Dhoni playing the role of an anchor in case the top order fails. Dhoni is also well-known to finish matches towards the later stages of the game.
A unique advantage to CSK is that the team has a wealth of experience. Several players on the side have played cricket for close to, or over, a decade. However, the downside to the squad are bowlers who aren’t as experienced. Fielding is also a concern for a few of the players, though the likes of Raina and Watson are very capable.
CSK’s star-studded line-up also poses a problem of plenty. It means that the team's selection process will have the coaches scratching their heads. The likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson are match winners and figuring out the right combination will be a task.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB is a talented team and managed to reach the finals of the IPL on three occasions. The side’s biggest strengths are Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Marcus Stoinis and Parthiv Patel as batsmen. Parthiv doubles up as a keeper and Kohli, along with de Villiers, is enough to scare any bowler. Colin de Grandhomme, Stoinis and Moeen Ali form the all-rounders’ part. Shimron Hetmyer is the finisher on this squad.
As for the bowlers, Tim Southee, Nathan Coulter-Nile, are likely to be strike bowlers, since Umesh Yadav doesn’t have a stellar T20 record. RCB sold off Quinton de Kock and they’ll miss out the services of the hard-hitter. Of particular importance will be de Villiers’ performance, since he’s a trump card for any team.