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RCB vs CSK: Virat Kohli & MS Dhoni together for one last time?

The Bengaluru and Chennai stars have been playing against each other in the IPL since its inception in 2008.

Royal Challengers Bangalore batter Virat Kohli plays a shot while watched by Chennai Super Kings’ Mahendra Singh Dhoni during an IPL match between at The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai in April 2012. (Photo by SESHADRI SUKUMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

WHILE excitement was heating up around the crucial clash between defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday (18), the match was also gaining attention for another big reason.

It could be the final time that two of India’s biggest cricketing superstars — Virat Kohli of RCB and Mahendra Singh Dhoni of CSK — appear together in an IPL game. Kohli mentioned about it on the eve of the game saying he was looking forward to playing alongside Dhoni since it could be one last time he gets to play with the ace wicket-keeper with whom he has been playing in the tournament since 2008.

Dhoni, who will turn 43 this July, stepped down from CSK captaincy just before the tournament began and was replaced by Ruturaj Gaikwad. Speculation is rife that the current edition could be the final one for the cricketer who has given Chennai a record-equalling five IPL crowns.

Read: IPL 2024: Bengaluru look to ‘Lucky 18’ to beat Chennai

Kohli, on the other hand, has been the most prolific scorer in the history of the IPL with nearly 8,000 runs in 250 outings, well on his way to make history by becoming the first batter in the tournament to complete 10,000 runs. His team, however, has not been able to win a single IPL trophy so far. RCB and CSK had met in the final of the 2011 edition which Chennai won.

Both players have served their respective teams since the beginning of the tournament in 2008.

Read: Once I’m done, I’ll be gone; you won’t see me for a while: Kohli

Kohli, who had succeeded Dhoni as India’s national captain, last played with the latter in the semi-final of the 50-over World Cup in 2019 against New Zealand in England. Kohli, 35, was the captain then.

It was under Dhoni’s captaincy that India won their last 50-over World Cup crown in 2011 and Kohli was a member of that squad.

The two heavyweight players share a healthy camaraderie, both on and off the ground.

“For fans to see him (Dhoni) play in any stadium in India is a big thing. Me & him playing again, maybe for the last time, you never know – that is a special thing,” Kohli said on Jio Cinema.

“We have had some great memories, some great partnerships for India, it’s a great occasion for fans to see us together,” Kohli added.

Kohli also remarked about dealing with criticism, saying the veteran Dhoni also had his own methods of helping his team win.

“People used to say the same about Mahi bhai (Mahendra Singh Dhoni). ‘Why is he taking the game to 20th over or 50th over.’ But how many matches did he finish for India!” Kohli said.

“He’s probably the only person who knows what he’s doing! And he’s finishing the game from there. For me, that’s muscle memory. He knows if he takes the match till the last over, he’ll win the game.”

Kohli is the highest scorer in this year’s IPL so far, accumulating 661 runs in 13 matches at an average of more than 66 and strike rate of 155-plus. He has scored five fifties and one hundred so far.

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