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KKR vs CSK Preview: Last season's finalists prepare for showdown on opening night

In a rematch of last season's finale, TATA IPL 2022's curtain-raiser will see defending champions Chennai Super Kings take on Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday, March 26 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Chasing 193 in the final, Kolkata fell short by 27 runs despite a strong start, which saw openers Venkatesh Iyer and Shubhman Gill rack up fifties.

After managing just two wins from seven games last year, the boys in Purple and Gold steered a stunning turnaround to march into the playoffs with five wins from the next seven games.

However, a new season brings new prospects and new faces aplenty. Having retained their core players, Kolkata will be led by their new captain Shreyas Iyer. At his disposal is an exciting squad with a mix of youth and experience.

"I feel that I'm a player's captain and I want to create an atmosphere where all of us are thinking towards one goal, which is winning," Iyer told kkr.in.

Venkatesh Iyer, who dramatically swung KKR's last season around after coming off the bench by scoring 370 runs at the average of 41.11, is expected to be the batting mainstay alongside Shreyas Iyer. The bowling unit bears a familiar look with the likes of Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine complimenting the pace attack spearheaded by Umesh Yadav and Shivam Mavi. Pat Cummins and Aaron Finch will join the squad after completing their national duties in Pakistan.

Chennai, on the other hand, too, have a newly minted captain in Ravindra Jadeja after MS Dhoni decided to pass on the baton ahead of the season. Having brought back several of their first-choice, experienced players the side will be raring to defend their fourth title.

Back in their ranks is Ruturaj Gaikwad, last season's leading run-scorer, who is expected to provide top-order impetus alongside Devon Conway and Ambati Rayudu. The Jadeja-led side will be without their new-ball enforcer and a million-dollar buy, Deepak Chahar, who will miss the start of the tournament due to an injury, but have their bowling bases covered with the onus being on Moeen Ali, Adam Milne, Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Dwayne Bravo.

The conditions at Wankhede traditionally facilitate the quicks but the pitch tends to flatten out as the innings progresses allowing fluent strokeplay.

Squads:

KKR: Shreyas Iyer (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rinku Singh, Aaron Finch, Abhijeet Tomar, Ramesh Kumar, Pratham Singh, Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson, Baba Indrajith, Pat Cummins, Mohammad Nabi, Nitish Rana, Shivam Mavi, Anukul Roy, Chamika Karunaratne, Aman Khan, Andre Russell, Venkatesh Iyer, Umesh Yadav, Rasikh Salam, Tim Southee, Ashok Sharma, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy.

CSK: MS Dhoni (c), Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Ambati Rayudu, Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Santner, Chris Jordan, Adam Milne, Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Maheesh Theekshana, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Tushar Deshpande, KM Asif, C. Hari Nishaanth, Jagadeesan N, Subhranshu Senapati, K. Bhagat Varma, Prashant Solanki, Simarjeet Singh, Mukesh Choudhary.