Sanju Samson and Steve Smith powered Rajasthan Royals to a 16-run victory over Chennai Super Kings in their opening fixture of the Indian Premier League season.

CSK kicked off the IPL's 13th season with a five-wicket win over Mumbai Indians, however, they were comfortably second best on Tuesday in Sharjah.

Samson and captain Smith laid the foundation for Rajasthan with a second-wicket partnership of 121 as they set CSK a target of 217.

Had CSK triumphed it would have marked the highest successful chase in IPL history.

However, they never came close to doing so despite an opening partnership of 56 between Shane Watson and Murali Vijay and a powerful 37-ball 72 from Faf du Plessis.

Three sixes in the final over from MS Dhoni saw the record for most maximums in an IPL match tied as the teams combined for 33.

A comfortable Rajasthan success did not appear on the cards when opener Yashasvi Jaiswal fell for six in the third over.

But Samson (74) and Smith (69) tipped the balance of the contest firmly in favour of Rajasthan.

Samson was in destructive form as he bludgeoned the CSK attack, a four and nine sixes marking a devastating 32-ball stay at the crease.

Lungi Ngidi dismissed Samson when a wide delivery outside off was hit to deep cover and David Miller was run out for a duck two balls later.

Smith held the innings together until he fell with 10 balls remaining, with Jofra Archer then adding the finishing touches as he struck Ngidi for four successive sixes - including two off no-balls - in a final over that went for 30.

Rahul Tewatia dealt with the dangerous Watson, whose 33 comprised of four sixes, sending a delivery crashing into his leg stump.

Shreyas Gopal removed Murali (21) five balls later before Tewatia had Sam Curran and Ruturaj Gaikwad stumped in successive deliveries.

Kedar Jadhav's (22) exit left an unlikely fightback on the shoulders of the experienced duo of Du Plessis and Dhoni.

Du Plessis did the heavy lifting in spectacular fashion, with three sixes in the 17th over giving CSK faint hope that was snuffed out when an Archer bouncer did him for pace.

 

Smith shows his class

Smith returned from a head injury suffered during Australia's recent limited-overs tour of England and did so in fine fashion, scoring his first half-century in any format since February.

Archer adds crucial runs

Archer's incredible final-over contribution made sure a mammoth total was out of reach for CSK and he then produced a brilliant bouncer to remove the in-form Du Plessis and put the contest to bed.

Sunrisers Hyderabad suffered a remarkable collapse as they slumped to a 10-run defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore in their Indian Premier League opener.

Chasing 164, Sunrisers looked on course to ease towards that target with Jonny Bairstow in superb form and set at the crease on 61.

However, Bairstow's decision to attack a Yuzvendra Chahal (3-18) delivery turned the tide as he was skittled for the first of eight wickets in 26 balls.

Vijay Shankar fell for a duck from the next delivery before Priyam Garg went for 12 and Abhishek Sharma (7) was victim to an incredible mix-up with Rashid Khan (6).

With Mitchell Marsh nursing an injury and demoted down the batting line-up, the lower order wilted, giving RCB a stunning start to their quest for a first IPL title.

Earlier, fifties from Devdutt Padikkal (56) and AB de Villiers (51) helped RCB to 163-5 from their 20 overs.

That total did not look like being defended as the brilliant Bairstow put Sunrisers, who lost opener David Warner (6) to a second-over run-out, in an excellent position.

He hit six fours and a pair of sixes to guide Sunrisers to 121-2 in the 16th over before his ill-advised heave allowed Chahal's floaty delivery to clatter into leg stump.

A googly then removed Shankar first ball and, though Chahal did not claim a hat-trick, Garg soon departed after a failed attempt to ramp Shivam Dube (2-15).

Sharma was run out in absurd fashion as he collided with Rashid, who needed several minutes of treatment before continuing.

He followed Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0) in being bowled by Navdeep Saini (2-25) in the next over as Sunrisers faded badly.

Marsh, who badly sprained his ankle in RCB's innings, did not come in until number 10 and was caught at long-on off his first ball and had to be helped from the field.

RCB's win was then wrapped up in the final over as Sandeep Sharma (9) was caught in the deep by skipper Virat Kohli off Dale Steyn (1-33).


Paddikal proves his worth

The exciting Paddikal got the nod to open alongside Aaron Finch ahead of Parthiv Patel and vindicated that decision with an excellent innings. With Kohli and the explosive De Villiers also in the XI, RCB have a potent batting line-up that possesses the potential to deliver in more devastating fashion than they did in Dubai.

Chahal starts collapse

Seeing off the last over of Chahal, one of the most dangerous bowlers in the IPL with over 100 wickets in the competition, was always likely to be key for Bairstow and Sunrisers. He failed to do so and his poor shot proved a decisive error. Still, even the England international could not have predicted the manner in which Sunrisers collapsed.

Delhi Capitals made the most of a stunning late collapse by Kings XI Punjab to triumph in a super over at the end of an IPL thriller on Sunday. 

Marcus Stoinis made 53 from 21 deliveries as Delhi recovered from a shocking start to post 157-8, though their fightback appeared in vain when their opponents matched their total with three balls to spare. 

However, needing just one more run to prevail, Kings XI were somehow unable to get over the line, losing wickets off the final two deliveries. 

Mayank Agarwal was the first of those to depart having made a superb 89, the opener rescuing his side after they had slipped to 55-5 in their reply. 

He hit 10 runs off Stoinis' first three deliveries at the start of the 20th over, but the bowler hit back when a wide full toss was slapped to Shimron Hetmyer in the deep.

Chris Jordan then clipped a full toss straight to Kagiso Rabada at square leg to leave the scores level, meaning a super over was required to decide the outcome of a see-saw contest.

Kings XI managed two runs off the opening ball but Rabada then claimed a pair of wickets, leaving Delhi needing three. They easily reached the paltry target to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. 

STOINIS STUNS KINGS XI

Having come together at 13-3, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant made 39 and 31 respectively. Still, when both fell in successive balls, the Capitals were reeling at 87-5.

Stoinis, though, emphatically changed the tempo of the innings. Kings XI leaked 57 from the final three overs – including 30 off the last, bowled by Chris Jordan – as Delhi finished with a flourish.

PAINFUL OUTING FOR ASHWIN

Playing against his former franchise, Ravichandran Ashwin's involvement was cut short when he suffered an apparent shoulder injury.

The India spinner claimed two wickets in his opening over before getting hurt when diving to stop a ball, forcing him to leave the field with his left arm in a makeshift sling.

PAIR FOR POORAN

It is not often you get to bat twice in a Twenty20 game. However, Nicholas Pooran failed to capitalise on either opportunity he had for Kings XI.

The West Indies batsman was dismissed by Ashwin first time around and then, called into action again in the super over, was cleaned up first ball by Rabada.

Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis led the way as Chennai Super Kings won the IPL opener and exacted a measure of revenge for their 2019 final loss to Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi.

In a repeat of the final of the previous edition of the IPL - when Mumbai beat the then-defending champions Chennai by a single run - the Super Kings chased down 163 to win.

They did so despite losing openers Shane Watson and Murali Vijay in the first two overs of their reply as Rayudu smashed 71 off 48 and shared a third-wicket stand of 115 with Du Plessis.

The South African finished unbeaten on 58 to see his side home alongside scoreless Chennai captain MS Dhoni, with the India great - who recently retired from international cricket - playing for the first time since the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

The defending champions made a strong start and were 46 without loss in the fifth over, but no one was able to go on and make a big total as Saurabh Tiwary top-scored with 42.

Mumbai were 46-6 across the final seven overs of their innings as they made 162-9, with Lungi Ngidi taking 3-38.

The partnership between Rayudu and Du Plessis proved pivotal, though the former perished when caught and bowled by Rahul Chahar with the final ball of the 16th over.

England all-rounder Sam Curran, making his debut for the Super Kings, stepped in at six and his 18 from six balls brought Chennai to the verge of victory.

For once, Dhoni was not 'the finisher' as he failed to score off the two balls he faced, with Du Plessis instead striking back-to-back fours to give Chennai victory with four balls to spare - their first win over Mumbai in five attempts.

 

ANOTHER OPENING LOSS FOR MUMBAI

The Indians have won the IPL a record four times, but this was the eighth year in a row in which they had lost their opening game of the tournament.

DHONI SURVIVES FIRST-BALL DUCK

It had been 437 days since Dhoni last took to the crease - in India's World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand - and he only just survived a first-ball duck. He was initially given out after appearing to feather a Jasprit Bumrah bouncer behind, but the decision was overturned and Dhoni was there at the end, though, for once, he was not the one bringing it home.

Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming hopes to draw strength from a nightmare build-up to the IPL season ahead of Saturday's opener against Mumbai Indians.

Fleming is without Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh, who opted out of the tournament that has been moved to the UAE amid the on-going effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ruturaj Gaikwad and Deepak Chahar also tested positive for COVID-19, along with several members of support staff, while a number of Fleming's first-choice personnel - the likes of Shane Watson, MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu - are short of competitive action due to the wider realities of 2020.

"It has been different, and that's been part of the challenge - understanding the unknown," Fleming said.

"We didn't get off to a great start, with some positive COVID-19 cases, but I think we dealt with it very well.

"We were calm around our approach, looked after the players and staff very well, and the rest of the players were calm in the hotel room. There was a bit of anxiety wanting to get out and train.

"It is what it is, and the players dealt with it very well. In hindsight, the amount of pre-season training that we've done up to now, and the extra few days in the room, was probably a blessing."

Mumbai's reasons for trepidation are more historically based.

The last time the IPL was moved to the UAE in 2014, they lost each of their five games.

"We didn't have a great experience last time yes, but it's a different team now," skipper Rohit Sharma said.

"The thought process is different. Six years is a lot of time. Like I said, it's about understanding pitches and conditions, that is crucial so we are putting a lot of emphasis on that.

"Eventually the pitches will play a big part, so understanding and adapting quickly is important. But yes, the past won't play any part - it was just myself, Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah from that team.

"I think Bumrah played just one game. So the team is different, the staff is different [and] thought process is different. Looking forward to a great IPL."

The Indian Premier League returns this weekend, with the creme de la creme of the sport in the United Arab Emirates for the marquee Twenty20 competition of franchise cricket.

Mumbai Indians, the defending champions, face Chennai Super Kings in Saturday's curtain-raiser, which is a repeat of the 2019 final.

Here, we take a look at the players who should light up the tournament.

 

VIRAT KOHLI (Royal Challengers Bangalore)

No man has more IPL runs than RCB captain Kohli, whose 5,412 have been accrued at an average of 37.84 across his 117 matches.

Key Stat: India superstar Kohli is the only batsman in the history of T20 internationals to average more than 50 (50.80) among those with a minimum of 20 innings.

MS DHONI (Chennai Super Kings)

He may have retired from international duty, but Chennai skipper Dhoni is not calling time on his IPL career just yet. You feel the 'finisher' will want to end with a flourish.

Key Stat: Dhoni has made the most runs as a captain (4,142) among the eight skippers. Rajasthan Royals captain Steve Smith is the only man to have a better win percentage (65.5 per cent) than Dhoni's 59.8 per cent too.

JASPRIT BUMRAH (Mumbai Indians)

Player of the match in the 2019 final, it was Bumrah's 2-14 that proved pivotal to Mumbai's success. The seamer has mastered the art of death bowling.

Key stat: No one bowled more balls at the death (overs 17-20) than Bumrah's 172 deliveries in 2019. He had an economy of just 7.7 during that period. 

ANDRE RUSSELL (Kolkata Knight Riders)

West Indian all-rounder Russell is a box office draw for Kolkata Knight Riders having averaged 56.7 with the bat last year.

Key stat: Russell made 510 runs in 2019, of which 85.5 per cent were made from boundaries. That was the biggest percentage for those to have made at least 20 runs.

ROHIT SHARMA (Mumbai Indians)

A record four-time winner of the IPL as Mumbai captain, Rohit made 52 fours last season - the most of his 12-year IPL career.

Key stat: Rohit is 102 runs away from becoming the third batsman to reach 5,000 IPL runs after Kohli and Suresh Raina.

DAVID WARNER (Sunrisers Hyderabad)

Last season Warner won the Orange Cap - awarded to the IPL's leading run-scorer - for a record third time after amassing 692 runs, 99 more than anyone else in the tournament.

Key stat: Warner has now accumulated at least 600 runs in three separate campaigns. Chris Gayle (also three) is the only other batsman to have done so more than once.

DEEPAK CHAHAR (Chennai Super Kings)

Chahar had a breakthrough campaign with the Super Kings last year, claiming 22 wickets - a figure only South African duo Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada could better.

Key stat: The seamer bowled 64.3 overs in 2019 and 49 per cent of his deliveries were dot balls - the highest figure among those who bowled at least 10 overs.

KAGISO RABADA (Delhi Capitals)

The Proteas quick made his mark in the IPL last season when he took 25 wickets in the Capitals' run to the semi-finals.

Key stat: Of those who bowled at least 10 overs, Rabada had the best average (14.72) while he and international team-mate Tahir were the only two bowlers to have more than one four-wicket haul.

The Indian Premier League season that many feared would never happen is about to get started.

Where there is a will, and where hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, there is usually a way.

And IPL chiefs have taken extreme measures to ensure the 2020 campaign goes ahead, taking the league and its teams to the United Arab Emirates for the next eight weeks.

The tournament that brought new levels of razzmatazz to Twenty20 cricket is set to begin behind closed doors, with Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah staging the games.

Can defending champions Mumbai Indians defy the pattern of their previous odd-year successes and retain the trophy, and if not then who will come through?

Here is a look, using Opta numbers, at what we should be looking forward to during the 13th edition of the game-changing league.

The oddest of years is an even year. Does that spell trouble for Mumbai?

Mumbai Indians have become the IPL's dominant franchise, and it is they and Chennai Super Kings who are most widely fancied to take the silverware this year.

Saturday's opener between those sides is a re-match of last year's astounding final, when Lasith Malinga pinned Shardul Thakur lbw from the final ball to nail a one-run win for Mumbai.

Two statistics leap out ahead of the reunion: Mumbai have beaten Chennai in eight of their last nine IPL clashes, including the last five; however, Mumbai have lost their last seven season openers.

Mumbai's last season-opening win came in 2012 – an eight-wicket success against... Chennai Super Kings.

In the last seven IPL seasons, Mumbai have been champions four times, but each time they have followed a title success with a relatively fallow year, finishing fourth, fifth and fifth again between their 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 success. If the pattern of triumphing in odd years and missing out in even years holds, we are looking for another team to hoist the trophy in November.

Only one team have successfully defended the IPL title, with Chennai achieving back-to-back triumphs in 2010 and 2011.

Will we have new champions?

Of the five franchises to appear in every IPL edition, three of them are yet to win to the competition: Delhi Capitals, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

It is worth bearing in mind the IPL has visited the UAE before, when 20 games were moved to avoid a clash in 2014 with India's general election.

And Kings XI Punjab will look on that time fondly, having won all five of their matches in the UAE. Mumbai, in stark contrast, lost each of their five contests during that sojourn.

Delhi, as they prepare to begin their 2020 campaign, are three defeats away from becoming the first team to lose 100 matches in the competition.

Are there records on the line?

Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner and Kings XI Punjab showman Chris Gayle are two of the most exhilarating players in the league. Warner last year matched Gayle's record feat of scoring 600-plus runs in three separate IPL seasons when he scored 692 in just 12 innings, so the race is on to see if either man can go above 600 for a fourth time.

Mumbai's Rohit Sharma is 102 short of becoming the third batsman to reach 5,000 runs in his IPL career, while Warner is 294 away from that landmark. The all-time leading run-scorers in the competition are Virat Kohli (5,412) and Suresh Raina (5,368).

Can you keep a tight line?

In a format known for its ferocious hitting, is it possible to stifle teams late in an innings?

Yorker specialist Jasprit Bumrah found a way for Mumbai in 2019, bowling a competition-high 172 balls at the death (overs 17-20) and recording a highly respectable economy rate of 7.7 in those games.

His figures of 2-14 from four overs in last year's final were testament to his talent for keeping run-hungry batsmen tied down. More of the same could keep Mumbai competitive in 2020.

Andre Russell is perhaps the most destructive batsmen in T20 cricket. Batting in the lower order for whichever team he is playing for, the powerful Jamaican can change the course of a game in just a few overs.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians will face Chennai Super Kings in the first match of the 2020 Indian Premier League, it has been announced.

This year's edition of the IPL had been due to begin in India in late March but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it will now take place between September and November in the United Arab Emirates.

The first fixture, which takes place in Abu Dhabi on September 19, will see Rohit Sharma's Mumbai face MS Dhoni's Chennai, the team they defeated by one run in the 2019 final.

There will be 10 days of double-headers, with matches split across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders will be the last two teams to play their first fixtures, which is thought to be because of the England and Australia players in their squads.

Those two countries are currently playing white-ball cricket in England, with the final match on September 16.

Lasith Malinga has withdrawn from the Indian Premier League for personal reasons and Mumbai Indians have signed James Pattinson to replace him.

Paceman Malinga opted out of the tournament in the United Arab Emirates, which starts on September 19, so he can be with his family in Sri Lanka.

Australia quick Pattinson will fly out to Abu Dhabi to join his new team-mates this weekend.

Indians owner Akash Ambani told the franchise's official website: "James is the right fit for us and adds to our pace attack options available at hand especially for the conditions we will play in this season.

"Lasith is a legend and a pillar of MI's strength. There is no denying the fact that we will miss Lasith's cricketing acumen this season.

"However, we fully understand Lasith's need to be in Sri Lanka with his family during this time.

"Mumbai Indians is founded on the values of 'One Family' and for us the members of our squad and their well-being will always hold utmost importance. We welcome James to our One Family."

Chennai Super Kings batsman Suresh Raina will miss the entire Indian Premier League for personal reasons.

The Super Kings on Saturday revealed Raina had left the United Arab Emirates to return to his homeland three weeks before the tournament gets under way.

"Suresh Raina has returned to India for personal reasons and will be unavailable for the 2020 IPL season. Chennai Super Kings offers complete support to Suresh and his family during this time." CSK chief executive KS Viswanathan said in a statement.

The announcement comes a fortnight after the 33-year-old retired from international cricket.

The loss of Raina is another blow for CSK in a week when at least 10 members of their camp reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

One India player is said to among those who returned positive tests, with the majority being members of the support staff.

The delayed 2020 Indian Premier League season will begin on September 19, pending government clearance, with games to be staged in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. 

This year's edition of the Twenty20 tournament was originally due to start in March, only to be postponed indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the country, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had already revealed plans to stage the entire competition in the United Arab Emirates later in the year. 

Following a video conference between members of the IPL's governing council on Sunday, a statement signed by BCCI secretary Jay Shah announced further details regarding the 53-day event, including venues, updated regulations and key dates. 

The final is due to be played on November 10 and there will be 10 double-headers during the round-robin stage, though a full fixture list is yet to be released.

The UAE has staged the IPL previously, co-hosting the 2014 season due to a clash with India's general election.

"The governing council also discussed the comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs), which will be finalised and published in due course, including the agencies to execute and deliver a bio-secure environment for safe and successful conduct of IPL 2020 Season," the statement read. 

"The governing council also reviewed the player regulations for replacement players for 2020 season."

The IPL governing council plans to hold a meeting with all franchises in the near future, while the proposals must be ratified by the Indian government. 

the Women's T20 Challenge will also take place in the UAE, with three teams playing four matches during the same week as the IPL play-offs. 

South Africa have postponed indefinitely proposed tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies and are unlikely to play again until November, Graeme Smith has revealed.

The Proteas were due to travel to Sri Lanka in June for three ODIs and a trio of Twenty20 fixtures against their hosts, only to cancel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For the same reason they called off a planned trip to the Caribbean set for July and August, when they were due to play two Tests and five T20 matches.

While there was hope of facing West Indies in September instead, director of cricket Smith admits such a scenario is impossible for Cricket South Africa (CSA) due to the rearranged Indian Premier League season.

Several of the country's leading names are contracted to franchises for the T20 tournament, which seems set to be staged in the United Arab Emirates this year.

"The West Indies tour has been postponed indefinitely," Smith told the media on Saturday.

"We are struggling to find the time with the Indian Premier League, when our players are likely to be needed from the beginning of September. Sri Lanka also [postponed].

"I expect that once things get up and running, our team, on the men's side, I would say from November onwards, if all goes well, it will be a really busy period for South African cricket, probably playing in times that we haven't played before and trying to cram in a lot of the missed tours."

As for his own situation with CSA, Smith reaffirmed his commitment to the role amid recent questions raised over his appointment, as well as the coaching staff he put in place.

Mark Boucher was named as head coach ahead of the home series with England, while fellow former international team-mates Jacques Kallis and Paul Harris were introduced to work as batting and spin-bowling consultants respectively.

"If you look at some of the things which are being said around appointments, my appointment and the appointment of my staff, I think some of those things are extremely unfair," Smith said.

"It was good to see CSA president (Chris Nenzani) put that straight with his most recent comments. But I have to come back to my value system and why I got involved in this job.

"Cricket South Africa courted me for a while, I went through the same interview process as everybody else in getting the job.

"I got involved because I have got cricket at heart and to be part of the solution. I want to help create a strong Cricket South Africa."

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has written to the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) as it plans to move the 2020 Indian Premier League to the United Arab Emirates. 

The ECB confirmed on Monday the receipt of an official 'Letter of Intent' from the competition organisers, although the deal must still be ratified by the Indian government. 

The switch amid the coronavirus pandemic has long been rumoured, with the IPL eyeing a start date of September 19. The final would take place on November 8. 

Confirmed COVID-19 cases are still growing in India, swelling to well over a million, the third-most across the globe. 

The ECB has already started making plans to step in, as secretary general Mubashshir Usmani said: "There are many factors which influence the operations and logistics of hosting what is the world's most exciting, popular and lucrative tournament. 

"This is a massive movement of people and equipment and we now need to bring in the experts to discuss all aspects of UAE hosting the IPL." 

The UAE co-hosted the 2014 competition as the IPL clashed with India's general election, raising security concerns.

Australia coach Justin Langer believes his team must tour England if it is possible in 2020, as international cricket aims to get back on track after the impact of coronavirus.

After a four-month break, Test cricket resumed on Wednesday with a rain-hit first day of England's behind-closed-doors match against West Indies in Southampton.

Australia were due to tour England for a white-ball series starting on July 3, with new dates for the rescheduled trip yet to be confirmed.

With the Twenty20 World Cup still due to be played in Australia in October, Langer believes the tour of England also has to be a priority.

"I think we have to go to England. There's lots of challenges, of course, but we have to find solutions to make sure that can happen if possible," Langer told reporters.

"That's my view. I think for the health of world cricket.

"If things out of control happen and we can't end up going, at least we can say we've done everything in our power to make it happen."

Langer also claimed Cricket Australia (CA) should be willing to let its star names – such as Steve Smith – play in the Indian Premier League (IPL), with preparation for the T20 World Cup vital.

"I think we have to, talking frankly," said Langer, who would even let players leave if it meant them missing part of the domestic season in Australia.

"I'll always look for win-win situations and hopefully we do that when we get some clarity on what's happening with the schedule."

India will tour Australia later in 2020, with a four-Test series scheduled.

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