The time for cricket’s greatest extravaganza is here as the defending champions Mumbai Indians face off with the Royal Challengers of Bangalore in the opener of the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). After the tournament’s shift to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year, the league is back in India, although behind closed doors.
As the pandemics keep throwing new situations in front of us, the tournament this year will be played at neutral venues, denying every team any home advantage. In another first, a fresh edition of the league is arriving merely after 150 days, as Mumbai Indians had clinched their record fifth title on 10th November 2020 against Delhi Capitals in the titular clash.
On the other hand, the Virat Kohli-led RCB did manage to qualify into the Playoffs but a loss in the Eliminator showed them the exit door yet again amid the echoes of Ee Sala Cup Namde. As they enter into their 14th edition of the league with a title remaining elusive, there remains plenty for the red army to be done.
They are against a side that is domination personified. Over their 27 IPL meetings with Mumbai Indians, RCB has lost nearly double the games they have won: 17-10. Having said that, Mumbai has a reputation of being slow-starters. What should the most ideal combination in their first game be to change that?
Here’s the Predicted Playing XI of Mumbai Indians (MI) for IPL 2021 Match 1:
Openers – Rohit Sharma, Chris Lynn
Mumbai Indians missed their mainstay, Rohit Sharma, in the previous season for a large part of the tournament due to injury. However, he is back and must be itching to set the IPL on fire alongside Chris Lynn. Their regular opener, Quinton de Kock, has flown from South Africa in the middle of the ODI series to join his IPL team, although he is understood to be practicing quarantine, which becomes Chris Lynn’s chance to make his case strong.
In the previous edition, he did not get a single game as, despite Rohit’s injury, MI opted to pair up Ishan Kishan with de Kock. However, de Kock will continue to be the first-choice opener.
Middle-order – Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan
Middle-order is one area that quite a few teams have struggled with in the recent past. But not if you are the Indians, who have arguably two of the biggest and most ballistic talents in Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan. Things have turned merry for both of them and their toil has earned them a spot in the national team, with both of them announcing their arrival with a half-century in their debut innings.
Last year, Kishan finished with more sixes than anyone else in the tournament (30) and 512 runs at a phenomenal average of 57.33. Yadav, on the other hand, has notched up over 400 runs for three consecutive IPLs.
All-rounders – Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya
The Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard. Few in the IPL can match the standard of the all-rounders that MI boasts of. Both Krunal and Hardik Pandya were in action during the recent series against England, with the former even naming the record of the quickest half-century by any debutant in the ODI history.
Junior Pandya did not bowl as often in the series but whenever he did, he never failed to impress. Pollard, too, is coming after a successful series at home against Sri Lanka, where he notably slammed six sixes off Akila Dhananjaya. If Hardik Pandya does bowl alongside Pollard and Krunal, it will give an enviable depth to Mumbai, who can then opt to field an extra spinner too.
Bowlers – Piyush Chawla, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
Probably the only area of concern for Mumbai Indians was the lack of a quality spin-bowling option and having slotted in Piyush Chawla, they have all their bases covered. Rahul Chahar, on the other hand, has also found a spot in the national team after consistent performances at the IPL level: he has bagged 28 wickets at an economy below 8 in the last two seasons combined and played every game for the team in 2020.
Then, there is the prospect of Trent Boult operating with the new ball and Jasprit Bumrah launching one yorker after another in a territory that belongs to him entirely: death overs. Bumrah and Boult partnered to scalp 52 wickets in the previous edition, playing a pivotal role in MI’s fifth triumphant campaign.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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