CSK to host RCB in IPL 2024 opener on March 22

India

Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will host Royal Challengers Bangalore at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in the opening match of IPL 2024 on March 22.

On Thursday, the IPL released a partial schedule comprising an initial set of 21 matches between March 22 and April 7. The IPL final is expected to be played on May 26, with just five days between that and the opening match of the men’s T20 World Cup, to be played in the USA and the Caribbean from June 1.

The second half of the tournament schedule is expected once the Election Commission of India reveals the dates of the national elections, which are expected to take place in the months of April and May.

The opening match of the tournament will start at 8pm IST, while the remaining matches will follow the usual routine: 7.30pm IST for evening games and, on days featuring double-headers, 3.30pm IST for the early game.

There are four double-headers in the initial schedule including two on opening weekend. On March 23 Punjab Kings will play the day match against Delhi Capitals at home followed by Kolkata Knight Riders hosting Sunrisers Hyderabad at Eden Gardens.

On March 24, Rajasthan Royals play their first game against Lucknow Super Giants while Hardik Pandya’s Mumbai Indians open with an away-fixture against Gujarat Titans, his former team. For the fourth time in six editions, the season opener will not feature both the finalists from the previous season, with last year’s runners-up Titans kickstarting their campaign two days later.

Two teams – Punjab Kinga and Titans – will be playing back-to-back matches with just a day’s break in the initial set of games. After their first match, at home, on March 23, Punjab Kings will travel to Bengaluru to play RCB on March 25. Titans, who will be led by Shubman Gill after Hardik’s move to Mumbai Indians, will dash to Chennai a day after their tournament opener on March 24 to play CSK on March 26.

Capitals are the only franchise that won’t play any games at their home ground, Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla, in the March 22-April 7 period; both those games will be held at the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam. ESPNcricinfo understands that the Delhi and District Cricket Association has informed the IPL governing council that it might not have enough time to prepare the venue after hosting 11 Women’s Premier League matches, including the final, until March 17.

Capitals, Titans and RCB will play five of their 14 matches in this 17-day window. KKR will play only three matches; all the other franchises have been slotted to play four games. Punjab Kings will play their home games at a brand new venue, in Mullanpur on the outskirts of Chandigarh, instead of their traditional home in Mohali.

The opening day of the tournament will mark MS Dhoni‘s return to action. He is set to arrive in Chennai in the first week of March to resume training with his team. He had undergone knee surgery shortly after leading CSK to the title win over Titans in a rain-hit two-day final in Ahmedabad last season, and hasn’t played competitive cricket since.The tournament will also see Hardik Pandya return to Mumbai Indians – this time as captain – following two seasons at Titans, who he led to a title win in their first year. Rishabh Pant, too, is expected to return to competitive cricket after being out of action following a serious car accident in December 2022.

In all, 74 games will be played, including four playoff matches.

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