The inaugural game of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 will see Mumbai Indians (MI) squaring off against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Chennai on Friday night. MI, are looking to win their sixth IPL title and complete a hat-trick of titles, while RCB are yet to win a title.
The battle will be between two of India's finest white-ball players. Both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are among the best international batsmen in white ball cricket and are India's most experienced players. While Sharma will lead MI, Kohli will lead RCB.
On paper, MI are like a well-oiled machine. The players have been around for years and have tasted success. They know the formula needed to get success.
RCB, on the other hand, have always struggled to get their combination right. Often, their middle-order batting has been found wanting while their pace bowling has lacked variety.
Last year though, they did well to make it to the play-offs and for this year, they have brought in some impact players like hard-hitter Glenn Maxwell and express pace bowler Kyle Jamieson, who can also provide hard-hitting options at the end.
MI have won almost double the number of games played between the two teams over the years. While MI have won 17 matches, RCB have won just 9 matches.
The Mumbai franchise will no doubt go in as favourites again in the tournament opener. But RCB's power-packed line-up may just surprise them.
The big worry for RCB would be Devdutt Padikkal. While the left-handed opening batsmen, who impressed in his debut season with RCB in 2020, has joined the team after testing negative for coronavirus following a positive test, it will be interesting to see if RCB play him in the tournament opener.
In Mumbai Indians' case, they will be in two minds on South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, who has just arrived from an ODI series at home against Pakistan.
Here are the squads:
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), Devdutt Padikkal, Finn Allen (wicket-keeper), AB de Villiers (wicket-keeper), Pavan Deshpande, Washington Sundar, Daniel Sams, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Shahbaz Ahmed, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Daniel Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, K.S. Bharat.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Adam Milne, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Arjun Tendulkar, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), James Neesham, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Marco Jansen, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Quinton De Kock (wicket-keeper), Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult, Yudhvir Singh.