Reigning IPL champions the Chennai Super Kings will host the 2019 tournament opener at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium as they attempt to go back-to-back after a stellar 2018 campaign. On the other side of the fence, Virat Kohli and his Royal Challengers will be hoping to improve on last season’s efforts where his team failed to qualify for the playoffs.
Chennai Super Kings
You could argue that there’s not a lot the Super Kings could improve on in terms of desired results, everything just seemed to click into place perfectly for them in 2018. Former Mumbai Indians batsman Ambati Rayudu and veteran-Australian all-rounder Shane Watson had plenty to offer with the bat last season as they scored a combined-1157 runs for the tournament. This was in a year that Suresh Raina wasn’t even at his destructive best, yet Chennai still managed to get the job done with the likes of Rayudu, Watson and skipper MS Dhoni smoking the opposition with willow in hand. It’s always tough coming into a new tournament as the reigning champions, the amount of expectation that is thrown onto a team like Chennai can often cause a significant-fluctuation in performance. However, the Super Kings could probably be seen as an exception given their exceptional record in the franchise, other teams find it a lot tougher to maintain that level of consistency.
Coming up against Bangalore in their opening match of the 2019 tournament, there’ll be a significant plan in place to nullify the impact of Virat Kohli who is once again in red-hot form with the bat. Despite winning the title in 2018, the Super Kings only had one bowler who featured in the competitions top 10 leading wicket takers (Shardul Thakur with 16) which is a tad surprising. Their top two leading wickets takers (Thakur & Bravo) went for over 9 runs an over in IPL 2018, that’s most-likely where Kohli will attack Chennai. One area that the Super Kings could improve on is their spin bowling department, they didn’t exactly wow the competition last year. Ravindra Jadeja was good without being a standout, whereas the likes of Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Karn Sharma left a lot to be desired. Kedar Jadhav played just one match for Chennai in 2018, expect that stat to rise significantly in 2019 given his current status in India’s ODI side.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
‘Underachieved’ would be the best word to describe RCB’s 2018 campaign, rarely do you see the likes of Quinton de Kock and Brendon McCullum struggle to perform given their enormous abilities. It must have been frustrating team management throughout the tournament, so much so that they released the pair from their squad this season which can only be viewed as a fresh start approach. It was no great surprise that Virat Kohli led the Royal Challengers in the runs department in 2018 with 530 at 48.18, South African superstar AB de Villiers wasn’t far behind his skipper with 480 runs with an average above fifty. In his 12 matches, de Villiers managed six half centuries and was striking at a ridiculous 174.54 sending the message to his teammates and opposition that he’s not a man to be messed with. The addition of Shimron Hetmyer to this RCB side should really raise the scoring output in the middle order, the young West Indian produced some stunning knocks in last year’s CPL and should enjoy the glitz and glamour of the IPL.
The fact that Kohli and de Villiers had to realistically-carry the team with the bat in their previous tournament wasn’t ideal, although it wasn’t a big surprise either given the wavering-form some of their teammates found themselves in. All-rounders seems to be the theme of RCB’s overseas signings, they’ve got de Grandhomme, Stoinis and Moeen Ali as options throughout this tournament once again. Kohli will most-likely turn to his frontline-spinner in Yuzvendra Chahal again as an avenue to wickets, maybe expectation got the better of him last season though. Chahal managed 12 wickets from his 14 games, although he ranked outside the top 20 wicket takers in 2018 which left Virat a bit stumped for options. Indian quick Umesh Yadav was RCB’s only standout with the ball the 2018 IPL bagging 20 wickets at 20.90. They just didn’t have the ammunition to get the job done, Southee and de Grandhomme struggled to take wickets regularly and Pawan Negi’s two appearances shocked many after claiming 16 in the previous season.
Top 4 fantasy picks – Chennai Super Kings
- Shane Watson
- Deepak Chahar
- MS Dhoni
- Ambati Rayudu
Wildcard pick – Mitchell Santner
Top 4 fantasy picks – Royal Challengers Bangalore
- Virat Kohli
- AB de Villiers
- Umesh Yadav
- Yuzvendra Chahal
Wildcard pick – Moeen Ali
Chennai Super Kings (possible) – 1. Shane Watson 2. Ambati Rayudu 3. Suresh Raina 4. MS Dhoni (c & wk) 5. Sam Billings 6. Kedar Jadhav 7. Dwayne Bravo 8. Ravindra Jadeja 9. Mitchell Santner 10. Deepak Chahar 11. Mohit Sharma/Shardul Thakur.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (possible) – 1. Parthiv Patel (wk) 2. Virat Kohli © 3. AB de Villiers 4. Shimron Hetmyer 5. Moeen Ali 6. Shivam Dube 7. Washington Sundar 8. Tim Southee 9. Umesh Yadav 10. Yuzvendra Chahal 11. Mohammed Siraj.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.