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File photo of Ambati Rayudu of India training on March 1, 2019 in Hyderabad, India. (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Three-time champion Chennai Super Kings enjoyed a five-wicket victory over title-holder Mumbai Indians in the opening game of the Indian Premier League Sept. 19.

The IPL tournament finally started after several months of delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ambati Rayudu (71) and South Africa’s Faf du Plessis (58 not out) led the run chase as Chennai reached 166-5 in 19.2 overs in response to Mumbai’s 162-9.

England’s Sam Curran smashed 18 runs off six balls to ease the run chase when Rayudu was dismissed in the 16th over after hitting six fours and three sixes.

Rayudu had joined Du Plessis in only the second over after Shane Watson and Murali Vijay fell lbw against seamers Trent Boult (1-23) and James Pattinson (1-27) respectively.

Mumbai were earlier restricted by fast bowlers Lungi Ngidi (3-38) and Deepak Chahar (2-32).

The star-studded lucrative Twenty20 cricket competition is being played in the United Arab Emirates, but without spectators inside the stadiums.

India had to take the world’s richest domestic tournament offshore for the second time because of the surging impact of the virus on the world’s second most populous country including travel restrictions.

The second edition of the IPL was played in South Africa in 2009 because of general elections in India.

Mumbai opener Quinton de Kock (33 off 20 balls) provided Mumbai with a rapid start of 46 off 28 balls as Chennai captain MS Dhoni opted to field after winning the toss.

Dhoni’s decision to bring in Piyush Chawla (1-21) inside the batting powerplay paid dividends as the leg-spinner removed captain Rohit Sharma (12) in his first over.

Saurabh Tiwari top-scored with 42 off 31 deliveries, but fell to one of three fine catches by Du Plessis on the boundary.

Ngidi, who conceded 29 runs off his first two overs, had three wickets in his return spell that included the key wicket of Kieron Pollard (11) in the 19th over.

Delhi Capitals will take on Kings XI Punjab Sept. 20 at Dubai.

There will be 56 games in 46 days in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah for the round-robin format which concludes Nov. 3.

The final is scheduled for Nov. 10.

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