MS Dhoni vs Virat Kohli: Friends set to turn rivals in IPL 2019 opener

A lot has been said about the chemistry between India captain Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni in the lead up to the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Kohli has been able to marshal his troops quite well in limited-overs cricket with the able guidance of his go-to-man from behind the wickets, Dhoni.

However, that is all set to change as friends are set to turn rivals for Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019, starting March 23. Incidentally, it’s Dhoni vs Kohli in the season opener as Royal Challengers Bangalore travel to Chennai to take on defending champions Chennai Super Kings on Saturday.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the opening fixture as two of the biggest superstars of Indian cricket are going head-to-head in what is expected to be a blockbuster opening clash. Banter between fans of two of the most-followed IPL franchises have already begun.

Dhoni will have to deal with the pressure of being the defending champions in IPL 2019. On the other hand, Kohli will be hoping to end RCB’s title drought this year. Both the skippers will be hoping for a positive start on Saturday.

Amid all the hype and buildup, Dhoni and Kohli found time to share a light-hearted moment in Chennai on Thursday. In a photograph uploaded by CSK on social media, the two skippers can be seen greeting each other at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

Both CSK and RCB trained under light at the iconic venue. Kohli and his RCB teammates had made the trip from Bengaluru to Chennai earlier in the day.

Both teams have been preparing for the highly-anticipated season opener from earlier this week. The likes of Dhoni and Kohli joined the preparatory camps of their respective franchises well ahead of Saturday’s first match.

Notably, close to 12,000 fans had turned up to watch CSK’s practice match on Sunday. CSK are returning to Chennai for the first time in nearly 12 months as their home matches, barring one league game against Kolkata Knight Riders, were shifted out of the city due to Cauvery River issue in IPL 2018.

Speaking days ahead of their opener, CSK head coach Stephen Fleming conceded defending the title is a big challenge, considering the quality of oppositions in IPL 2019.

“Our challenge is to win the Cup again. It’s difficult, takes a lot of things to work for you. We’ve come back and rebased ourselves on what we need to do to stay comfortable and what we need to do from a skill point of view to compete with seven other very good sides,” Fleming had said.

“We openly have said we prefer experienced players because they identify big moments and last year they won them. That’s our challenge again. We back our people, so there’s not a lot of change in our side and we work hard on our relationships and one-on-one coaching rather than re-buy a team every year.”

Meanwhile, the captains of all eight franchises have reportedly reached Chennai to record a video of them signing the fair-play pledge. The pre-recorded video will be played ahead of the opening match on Saturday.

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