Former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni celebrates after reaching his half-century against Kolkata on the opening day of the TATA IPL at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday. Image Credit: ANI

Dubai: A new season is set to bring a new order in the Indian Premier League 2022, but it was the day of old war veterans and forgotten heroes to show that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the richest franchise.

Shreyas Iyer, who was unceremoniously dumped as the skipper of his old franchise Delhi Capitals, despite leading them to the play-offs, repaid the faith of the new team Kolkata Knight Riders and led them to a six-wicket victory over defending champions Chennai Super Kings at Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.

While Shreyas Iyer showed his astute captaincy skills while also keeping a calm head when another veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni was letting himself loose in the final overs of Chennai’s innings.

“There’s always tension when MS Dhoni is batting, especially in the last three overs when the dew is coming. We just have to carry the momentum from here. It was definitely spongier than we imagined. I’ve grown up playing here and I thought the wicket would be flat. Umesh has been working very hard at the nets and practice session. Chuffed to see him perform at his best today,” Kolkata skipper heaped praise on Umesh Yadav, the fast bowler who had last donned the Indian jersey in limited overs cricket in February 2019.

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Umesh Yadav and Venkatesh Iyer celebrate the dismissal of Chennai opener Rituraj Gaikwad. Image Credit: ANI

“Wickets in the powerplay is important. I’ve been focusing on my rhythm and I’m thankful to my trainers for keeping me in shape,” said Yadav after collecting the Player of the Match award. Yadav made the first breakthrough when he dismissed Ruturaj Gaikwad, the Orange Cap winner in the last edition, for nought in the first over to push Super Kings on the backfoot.

Dhoni, who has been under constant criticism for his lack of runs, once again proved why he is considered as one of the dangerous finishers of the white-ball cricket by scoring a half-century against all the odds to give Chennai a respectable total to defend. It was another veteran Dwayne Bravo who shone with the ball for the Super Kings with a three-wicket haul with rest of the Yellow brigade having a day to forget. The West Indian equalled Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga as the top wicket-taker in the IPL with 170 scalps.

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Kolkata Knight Riders opener Ajinkya Rahane plays an off drive during his 44 against Chennai. Image Credit: ANI

Ajinkya Rahane and Sam Billings shone in Kolkata’s run chase to prove that they are not a spent force yet. Both Rahane and Billings failed to play too many games for their franchise Delhi Capitals and were off loaded during the new auction. Rahane, who was grabbed by Kolkata for a base price of Rs10 million on the second day, proved his worth and a point on his home ground with a perfect exhibition of batting. His 44 formed the backbone of Kolkata’s chase against Super Kings.

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Dwayne Bravo bowled brilliantly to claim three wickets against Kolkata. The West Indian equalled Lasith Malinga's record. Image Credit: ANI

Billings, one of the specialists in Twenty20 world cricket, was also picked on the second day for his base price of Rs20 million after going unsold on the first day. These “discards” have made a perfect start to the new season and will be hoping to continue their form in the season.

On the field, nothing went right for newly inducted skipper Ravindra Jadeja, who did not get anything right including the toss that proved crucial factor with the due coming in late during the Chennai innings.

Due to play a big role

“I think dew will be vital and it will play a part. If you win the toss, you will definitely look to bowl first. In the first six overs, it was damp and in the second half, the ball was coming on. We were looking to drag the game as deep as we can. Bravo bowled brilliantly and everybody did a good job with the ball. As a batting unit, we didn’t get partnerships. We will try to do better next game,” Jadeja said after the match.

Mystery spinners Varun Chakravathy and Sunil Narine could be ineffective should Kolkata bowl second, but Knight Riders have continued the progress which began with the UAE leg of 2021 season 14.