IPl 2021, MI vs RCB Preview: Mumbai Indians Start Favourites In The Clash of the Superstars
Five time IPL champions, Mumbai Indians (MI) will clash with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the opening match of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Chennai later today. The encounter will boast of a number of superstars in both the teams and the captaincy battle – Rohit Sharma vs Virat Kohli – will add extra spice to the contest. MI are the two-time defending title holders while RCB are yet to lay their hands on the coveted trophy. MI have dominated RCB in the past having beaten them in as many as 17 of the 27 encounters between the two sides.
The match will witness a number of big hitters on both the sides locking horns with one another – the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Kieron Pollard, AB de Villiers, Hardik Pandya and Glenn Maxwell – and is expected to be a high scoring affair unless the spinner-friendly wicket at Chepauk dominates the course of play.
The match assumes more significance as the Covid-19 pandemic rages again all over the country. The BCCI would hope for a smooth start which would set the precedence and give a major boost for the remainder of the tournament.
The most dominating and balanced unit of the last two editions – MI have all their bases covered – an in-from top order, a dependable middle-order, firepower in the lower-order, a world class fast bowling unit and some variety and experience in the spin department.
Quinton de Kock is still undergoing the mandatory seven-day quarantine and will not be available for the opening fixture. Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan are likely to open for MI. The captain’s personal form was the only weak link in the batting last season and he would look to make amends this year.
Hardik Pandya is expected to bat at number 4 and provide the impetus in the middle overs while Kieron Pollard will be the X-Factor at the death. It will be interesting to see whether Rohit plays both Piyush Chawla and Rahul Chahar in the XI or drafts in Jayant Yadav in place of one of the leg spinners.
Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, the second and third-highest wicket-takers of IPL 2020 in the UAE, who bagged 52 wickets between them, will lead the pace attack.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB have their most balanced team, at least on paper, for years in this edition. Virat Kohli will open the batting with the very impressive Devdutt Padikkal – the left-hander outscored both his skipper and AB de Villiers last season and was in magnificent form in the 2021 Vijay Hazare Trophy. He has recovered from Covid-19 and is expected to play on Friday. AB is likely to bat at number three but may be used as a floater depending on the start given by the openers.
The X-factor in the line-up is Glenn Maxwell, who despite having a woeful 2020 season for Punjab Kings (108 runs at a strike rate of 101.88) was picked by RCB for a whopping INR 14.25 crore. The franchise would hope for a big contribution from the maverick Australian all-rounder in the middle-order.
Hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman from Kerala, Mohammed Azharuddeen, who has a strike rate of 142.27 in T20 cricket is expected to bat at 5 or 6 in the middle order which will also see all-rounders Daniel Christian and Washington Sundar.
RCB would be hoping for a big performance from their other big buy at the February mini-auctions – Kyle Jamieson of New Zealand. The tall fast-bowling all-rounder is expected to trouble the batsmen with his bounce and accuracy and will have good support in terms of Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini. Yuzvendra Chahal, RCB’s leading wicket-taker last season will continue to be their playmaker with the ball in the middle overs.
WHEN: 9th April, 7:30 PM IST
WHERE: Chennai, India
LIVE STREAMING: Hotstar
MI Team News
James Neesham is likely to start in the XI while Jayant Yadav may just pip both Nathan Coulter-Nile and Piyush Chawla for the opening encounter.
Possible Playing XI: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Ishan Kishan, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Hardik Pandya, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 James Neesham, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Jayant Yadav, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Jasprit Bumrah.
RCB Team News
Wicket-keeper batsman Mohammed Azharuddeen is likely to bat in the middle order. Daniel Christian and Kyle Jamieson are also expected to feature in the XI.
Possible Playing XI: 1 Virat Kohli, 2 Devdutt Padikkal, 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Mohammed Azharuddeen, 6 Daniel Christian, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Navdeep Saini, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal.
Recent Head-to-Head: (Last 5 matches)
MI lead the head to head 3-2 in the last five matches
To watch out for
Glenn Maxwell had a terrible IPL 2020 with Punjab Kings where he had a poor strike rate of barely 102. He would be raring to go and prove his critics wrong as he makes his debut for RCB. Maxwell has a strike rate of around 152 in all T20 cricket.
MI: I have played with Piyush since U-19 days. And I know, he is a very attacking bowler, which is something that we wanted in our spin bowling department: MI Captain, Rohit Sharma on their new recruit Piyush Chawla
RCB: Really looking forward to Virat opening the batting with Devdutt. You know, left-right combination, different types of players and obviously we know Virat’s record after he gets through the powerplay, he’s phenomenal – Mike Hesson, Director of Operations for RCB