Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders
TATA Indian Premier League
Saturday March 26, 2022
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai (2pm UK)
Never has the phrase, ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint’ rung truer!
The IPL kicks off with the first of 74 games across two months of non-stop action, and the first of them is a repeat of last year’s final between CSK and KKR.
Last October, Chennai beat Kolkata to win their fourth crown, winning by 27 runs as they comfortably defended a target of 194 in Dubai.
Now we are back in India following an easing of the Covid issues we have all been blighted by over the past two years.
Knight Riders can claim an early scalp
The bookies are sitting on the fence with this one. Some have CSK as favourites, others Kolkata.
But I would be siding with Kolkata, who are a best priced 10/11 with bet365.
The champions do seem to have freshened up their squad with some younger players. Two of those in New Zealand duo Adam Milne and Devon Conway, I rate highly.
But the loss of seamer Deepak Chahar through injury is a big loss to Chennai, as is the potential unavailability of Moeen Ali for the first game following visa issues.
And I just like the look of Kolkata more.
The Iyers, new captain Shreyas and Venkatesh, Nitish Rana, Sam Billings, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are all part of their bid for success.
Conway to shine on IPL debut
If you have followed my tips on any of the cricket from New Zealand this winter, you will know how highly I rate Devon Conway.
And he doesn’t mind a debut, does he! A double century on his Test bow at Lord’s last summer, England know that only too well.
Here, he makes his debut in yellow for the Super Kings, and I expect him to take to this stage like a duck to water.
Opener Conway, who scored 74 not out in his last T20 innings in January and 92 in his last Test innings last month, is 11/4 with bet365 to score a fifty in the match or the same price to be Chennai’s top run-scorer.
Both have definite appeal, though I would prefer to take the ‘to score a fifty’ gamble as I often think, as you will have seen me state before and will do again, that a player more often than not really needs to score a fifty to have a good chance of top-scoring.
It really is down to personal choice.