Test for former CSK stars as Pune, Rajkot make debuts in IPL ninth edition

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Mumbai, April 8: ‘Brand CSK’ is history and the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo will usher in a life that goes beyond the bright canary yellow when Pune Super Giants and Gujarat Lions make their Indian Premier League debuts with nothing much to lose in a shelf life of two years. With 59 matches spread across 10 cities, the cash-rich league starting Saturday will unearth new domestic talents apart from giving some of the tried and tested faces a shot at redemption during the next seven weeks of what is again expected to be a perfect marriage of cricket and entertainment.

While Dhoni is a seasoned captain in shortest format, India’s Test skipper Virat Kohli, with his staggering new-found success in T20 internationals, will hope that the form translates for his IPL franchise Royal Challengers, Bangalore in the company of Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers.

For the high-profile defending champions Mumbai Indians, the squad looks familiar from last season with the calm Rohit Sharma in charge and, in fact, has been bolstered by addition of dashing Englishman Jos Buttler.

The perennial wooden snoopers Delhi Daredevils will hope that new superstar of ‘Kingdom T20’ Carlos Brathwaite brings in his new-found exuberance under Rahul Dravid’s ‘Mentorship’and Zaheer Khan’s leadership.

The Shah Rukh Khan co-owned Kolkata Knight Riders will have the vocal crowd support at Eden Gardens, but the million dollar question is whether Sunil Narine, dubbed a ‘chucker’, can recreate the magic with a remodeled action. Narine’s captain Gautam Gambhir, who has not scored runs for a long time will also be under pressure as Jacques Kallis makes debut as the franchise’s coach.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad have the firepower in batting with David Warner upfront and have the experience of Ashish Nehra to guide Bangladesh’s ‘cutter master’ Mustafizur Rahaman. Kings XI Punjab have David Miller and Glenn Maxwell to shore up the batting but, sans Mitchell Johnson, lack the firepower in the bowling department. But with CSK and Rajasthan Royals being suspended for two years on the recommendations of Justice Lodha Commission, the normally settled team combinations have gone for a toss making the squad compositions look even more intriguing.

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