Two generations of India wicketkeepers will cross paths when Chennai Super Kings face Delhi Capitals in the second match of IPL 2021 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. While CSK will be led by the legendary MS Dhoni, who has done it and seen it all, DC will be captained by young Rishabh Pant, who has just begun to make his mark as a dynamic wicketkeeper-batsman. CSK failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time last season while DC fell narrowly short of glory, going down to Mumbai Indians in the final. As the teams begin their IPL 2021 journey, we take a look at some key player battles to keep an eye on.
1. Shikhar Dhawan vs Deepak Chahar
Delhi Capitals opener Shikhar Dhawan had a brilliant IPL last season. Despite registering quite a few ducks, he still ended up scoring more than 600 runs in the edition, and was second in the list of top run-getters, next only to Orange Cap winner KL Rahul. Not only did Dhawan look in great touch but also created a record, becoming the first batsman in the history of IPL to smash back-to-back hundreds. He will be keen to carry on the great form from last season.
Even as CSK struggled as both a batting and bowling unit last season, pacer Deepak Chahar was among the few players who managed to make an impact. He picked up 12 wickets in 14 games at a reasonable economy rate of 7.61. Chahar, on most occasions, kept things tight and made some important breakthroughs. He varied his deliveries nicely to ensure the batsmen could not go after him blindly. If he gets his act right, Chahar can trouble Dhawan.
2. Faf du Plessis vs Ishant Sharma
With Shane Watson having retired, Faf du Plessis will now be the senior opener in the Chennai Super Kings squad. Du Plessis was among the few batsmen from the franchise who impressed during the last season. He displayed impressive attacking instincts to gather 449 runs in 13 games at a strike rate of 140.75. Four times during the edition he crossed the half-century mark and looked in supreme touch on most occasions. Even in games in which CSK lost, du Plessis stood up for the team.
Ishant Sharma missed out on almost the entire IPL 2020 season due to injury. Having made an impressive return to Test cricket recently against England, the pacer will now be keen to make an impact in the IPL as well. He is no longer in the scheme of things for India in the shorter formats. However, he has a five-wicket haul in the IPL and has claimed 72 wickets in 90 games. Not great numbers. But, with Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje unavailable for the first game, Ishant will get a chance to make his mark. If he can get du Plessis early, the pacer can give DC the early advantage.
3. Rishabh Pant vs Ravindra Jadeja
Saturday will be the first time Rishabh Pant will be leading Delhi Capitals. As such, there will be additional pressure on him. However, there are no two ways about the fact that Pant will go into the match high on confidence. Following an average IPL 2020, Pant has gone to perform brilliantly, first in Australia and then at home against England, across formats. The left-hander played some audacious strokes against fast bowlers in recent times and will look to repeat the act on the more apt stage – the IPL.
Ravindra Jadeja is set to return from injury when CSK face DC on Saturday. With his accurate left-arm spin, Jadeja is capable of firing the ball in and running through the overs quickly. He struggled a bit last season, but Jadeja is pretty good at keeping the runs down. He hardly gives batsmen any room to go after him. Pant is not someone who will allow Jadeja to keep him quiet. He will try to take him on and will either succeed or perish, nothing in between.