The Indian Premier League of 2020 is still in its infancy, but there have been plenty of talking points, from player fitness levels to umpire sharpness.
We look ahead to the action taking place between Tuesday 22 September and Friday 25 September.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
The four days each feature one match with the Chennai Super Kings pressed into action twice in that frame.
Tuesday 22 September 2020 | Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah | 16:00
To Win Match
Rajasthan Royals 21/20
Chennai Super Kings 82/100
The Rajasthan Royals get their IPL campaign underway against the Chennai Super Kings, who come into the match off a victory against Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener.
This match could feature an intriguing clash of brothers Tom and Sam Curran. The progenies of former Zimbabwe allrounder Kevin Curran find themselves on opposing teams for the first time in many years.
The Super Kings are a well-balanced side set up to compete by the vast experience in their dressing room. Faf du Plessis started the tournament in great form as did Ambati Rayudu.
In the Royals camp, there will be a conflab about the four men who will fill the overseas player slots. West Indies quick Oshane Thomas comes into the series having played in the CPL while Tom Curran has featured extensively across the English summer as has Jofra Archer. Australian veteran quick Andrew Tye has proven to be a handful in the IPL in the past. From a batting point of view, David Miller, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler don’t make selection easy at all.
Smith is unlikely to play given he suffered a concussion on tour in England.
Verdict: Chennai Super Kings 82/100
Wednesday 23 September 2020 | Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi | 16:00
To Win Match
Kolkata Knight Riders 21/20
Mumbai Indians 82/100
The Mumbai Indians get a second bite at the Abu Dhabi cherry which may give them the edge against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday.
KKR can call on an in-form Eoin Morgan to supplement their exciting Indian batting prospects that include Nitish Rana and Shubnam Gill.
West Indies game-breakers Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell go head to head and could be key men for their respective sides. Pollard has already shown he is not afraid to try to clear the big boundaries in Abu Dhabi but couldn’t make the difference for MI in their loss to CSK.
It will be interesting to see if KKR continue to use Sunil Narine as an opener, with the spinner proving adept at keeping the runs flowing albeit in an unorthodox fashion.
The MI opening pairing of Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock will be one KKR want to split up as soon as possible or risk being blown out of the water.
Verdict: Mumbai Indians 82/100
Thursday 24 September 2020 | Dubai International Stadium, Dubai |16:00
To Win Match
Kings XI Punjab 21/20
Royal Challengers Bangalore 82/100
The Kings XI Punjab are still smarting from their super over loss to the Delhi Capitals and have even threatened legal action, but that could prove a distraction against the dangerous Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Mohammed Shami and Sheldon Cottrell hit the ground running for KXIP and will need to be at their best to put the powerful RCB batting lineup under pressure in the powerplay.
RCB’s key men will be senior batsmen Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers who can command a match on almost any surface.
KXIP skipper KL Rahul will have to recover from the spectacular demolition of his stumps not once but twice in the opener. His partnership with India teammate Mayank Agarwal is shaping up to be the team’s best hope of a big score.
RCB are capable of brilliance, but they need to be consistent to keep their quest for a first IPL title on track.
Verdict: Royal Challengers Bangalore 21/20
Friday 25 September 2020 | Dubai International Stadium, Dubai | 16:00
To Win Match
Chennai Super Kings 23/20
Delhi Capitals 72/100
CSK and the Delhi Capitals both won their opening matches, but MS Dhoni’s Super Kings were undoubtedly more clinical.
Kagiso Rabada and Marcus Stoinis were the standouts for the Capitals with the latter producing an incredible blitz at the death to get his team into the game with a defendable total. Rabada put on a super over masterclass claiming two wickets in three balls to set up the win.
The Capitals might want to rethink giving Stoinis the ball at the death though, despite him claiming a wicket off the final ball of the chase to set up the super over, he was erratic at best and a little lucky to get the scalp.
The Super Kings are the early tournament favourites led by Captain Cool himself, Dhoni who doesn’t know when he is beaten. They are resilient and experienced and will be tough to beat even if they are playing at a different venue for the third time in three matches.
Verdict: Chennai Super Kings 23/20