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Chennai Super Kings' captain Ruturaj Gaikwad shakes hands with his Royal Challengers Bangalore's counterpart and his former opening partner Faf du Plessis (left) at the end of the opener on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

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Chennai: Captaincy in Indian cricket is a bed of thorns. The designated individual has to handle various gameplan while not letting his form slip apart from developing an immunity to criticism. It’s a learning curve for every player who aspires to become a leader. For Rituraj Gaikwad, who was coronated on the eve of the Indian Premier League Season 17 opener against Royal Challengers Bengaluru at home on Friday, has a disadvantage and an advantage.

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The 27-year-old opener, who has been scoring runs in floods in the last couple of seasons to set the launchpad for the rest to build the team's innings on, has a huge boots to fill after replacing legendary skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the best leaders not just in Indian cricket circuit, but even on the world stage. Hence, Gaikwad’s failure, more than the success, will always be measured with that of MSD. But the positive side is that the Thala (leader) of Super Kings’ fans will be on hand to guide him.

Keeping a cool head

So how did the young captain fare in his first outing? Though it is too early to measure his success or the failure, Gaikwad deserves due credit for his handling of the bowling changes and has ticked an important box in keeping his cool to win key battles.

After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Bengaluru were off to a brisk start given by Gaikwad’s former opening partner and skipper Faf du Plessis. In the first three overs, the scoreboard read 33 no loss. Historically, CSK leak runs in the first six-over powerplay and it's par for the course.

Gaikwad brought in ace spinner Maheesh Theekshana to arrest the flow in the fourth and was quick enough to bring in the wily Mustafizur Rahman in the next over. The Bangladesh left-armpacer struck twice in the fifth over to remove the dangerous-looking du Plessis and the out-of-form Rajat Patidar to push the visitors on the backfoot.

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Bangladesh left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman returned with a four-wicket haul to be adjudged the Player of the Match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru. Image Credit: AFP

The skipper again brought back Deepak Chahar, who gets good seam movement with the newball, to dismiss the another dangerman Glenn Maxwell. By the end of powerplay six overs, Bengaluru scoreboard read 42 for three.

“We were in total control after the initial overs. The wickets of Maxwell and Faf are the turning point, which helped us to control the next five to six overs,” Gaikwad told the official broadcasters during the prize presentation ceremony. “I have always enjoyed the captaincy. Not once I have felt the additional pressure, since the time I led my State team, Maharashtra. Obviously, I had Mahi bhai [brother] with me.”

Perfect start to CSK and captain Gaikwad

It was a perfect take-off for the Etihad-sponsored Chennai Super Kings and Gaikwad’s captaincy after a six-wicket win at the Lions’ den in Chepauk. The Super Kings have not lost to the South Indian derby at home in eight of the last nine encounters. The Bengaluru outfit’s only win at Chennai’s fortress came in the inaugural edition in 2008. In the last 31 encounters, the Whistle Podu team have a overwhelming head-to-head record of winning 20 with one no result.

Mustafizur Rahman returned figures of 4-29 as the hosts restricted Bengaluru to 173-6, a total their batsmen overhauled in 18.4 overs at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium to extend the Royal Challengers’ dubious record of losing their opening clash.

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Kathakali artists perform during the opening ceremony for IPL Season 17 in Chennai on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

Shivam Dube, who hit 34, and fellow left-hander Ravindra Jadeja, who made 25, put on an unbroken stand of 66 to steer the team home.

“Everyone is a stroke-player in our side, including Jinx (Ajinkya Rahane). There is role clarity in the batting unit, which helps a lot. There are lots of positives, but two-three things to work on. Everyone chipped in, but if we had a few top-order batters batting through, the chase would have been much easier,” Gaikwad felt.

Glitzy start to the franchise league

The 17th edition of the lucrative franchise league began with a glitzy ceremony, with performances by Bollywood stars including India’s Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman.

Extravagant dances, popular music and fireworks gave way to the toss as Bengaluru skipper Faf du Plessis elected to bat.

Virat Kohli returned to competitive cricket after two months following a paternity break when he missed India’s 4-1 Test victory over England and started cautiously.

He made 21 off 20 balls including a six off spinner Theekshana before his departure in another inspired spell by Mustafizur, who again struck twice in an over.

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Virat Kohli shakes hands with Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the end of the match. Image Credit: AFP

Kohli was caught in the deep after a relay catch between Ajinkya Rahane and Rachin Ravindra and soon Cameron Green departed with Bengaluru losing half their side inside 12 overs.

Anuj Rawat, a wicketkeeper-batsman who hit 48, and Dinesh Karthik, 38 not out, steadied the ship and then took the attack to the opposition in their partnership of 95 in 50 balls.

Green strikes two key wickets

In reply, Chennai’s batsmen including IPL debutant Ravindra, who hit a 15-ball 37, got starts but lost regular wickets.

Green struck with two key wickets including Rahane (27) and Daryl Mitchell (22) with his fast-medium bowling but Jadeja kept the chase going.

Dube, who came in as impact substitute in place of Mustafizur, and Jadeja ensured the team sailed through.

-With inputs from agencies