Portugal Colonial - Dhoni's Super Kings to launch IPL title defence with season opener

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Dhoni's Super Kings to launch IPL title defence with season opener
Dhoni's Super Kings to launch IPL title defence with season opener

Dhoni's Super Kings to launch IPL title defence with season opener

The Chennai Super Kings franchise will launch its Indian Premier League title defence on March 26 with the first match of the world's most valuable cricket tournament, the country's cricket board said Sunday.

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Led by former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kings will play last year's runners-up Kolkata Knight Riders, who they defeated in Dubai for their fourth title in 14 seasons.

Ten teams, including new franchises Lucknow Super Giants and Gujarat Titans, will feature in 70 league matches and four playoffs in 65 days before the final on May 29.

The lucrative competition returns home -- to the western Indian cities of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune -- after its last two editions were disrupted because of the coronavirus pandemic and moved to the United Arab Emirates.

The cricket administrators hope limiting venues to the three cities in Maharashtra state will reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure for players and officials.

India is the world's second-most infected nation after the United States, with nearly 43 million Covid-19 cases, but cases have eased after a spike earlier this year due to the highly infectious Omicron strain.

With infection numbers now falling, authorities in Maharashtra last week approved 25 percent attendance for the cricket matches.

Jay Shah, secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said in a statement that the schedule for the playoffs and the final "will be announced later."

The league is a huge revenue earner for the wealthy cricket control board and estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy.

L.Henrique--PC