It is the summer. The month of April, the scorching heatwave, and a wave of cricket that comes along. It has only been 149 days since the Mumbai Indians lifted their record fifth title, the second in a row, defeating the Delhi Capitals in Dubai. And just after these many days, cricket’s most enthralling league returns – this time with the shortest gap between two seasons thanks to COVID-19.
It gets along with a mouth-watering contest: Mumbai Indians vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have been no match to their rivals in the league. Even as RCB’s 10-17 win-loss record against their immediate rivals infuses little confidence, merely the prospect of witnessing Rohit Sharma vs Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers vs Jasprit Bumrah, Glenn Maxwell vs Trent Boult makes the battle an ideal setting of a grand premiere of the sport’s grandest league.
As the pandemic continues to bring up new firsts, the shortest gap between the two seasons is not the only one. In another first, the tournament moves to neutral venues, all away from home for every franchise with Mumbai playing 5 in Chennai, 4 in Delhi, 3 Bengaluru, and 2 in Kolkata. While Wankhede Stadium was their fortress, MI’s enviable depth in every department has made it a team that can effectively gouge the venue out of the equation.
On the front of personnel, MI has barely left a hole. Keeping their core intact in all the departments like they are known to do, they have slotted in Adam Milne as a replacement to James Pattinson, who struggled with his economy last year, whereas they let go of Mitchell McClenaghan to rope in the young South African quick, Marco Jensen. The addition of Piyush Chawla has beefed up their spin bowling stocks, one of the very few areas of concern for Mumbai. They have ensured a backup in place for nearly every role in the team.
They arguably have the tournament’s most power-packed batting lineup, who all are capable of being relentlessly consistent. Their all-rounders have always managed to keep them in good stead, and with a bowling unit as strong as theirs, there is no reason why they should not fancy an unprecedented hat-trick of titles. Only more so after they have delivered a superstition-defying title win in an even year last time!
Then come the perennial underachievers. The ones who have everything to achieve excellence but enigmatically manage to fall short each time. RCB has been around for 13 years and they are yet to hold that spangling trophy. Age-long issues have continued to hurt them then be it the never-ending quest of discipline at the death overs or the over-reliance on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
What have they done to change that? Well, many things over the years. This time, it is the addition of an equally enigmatic IPL concept named Glenn Maxwell. Much like his team, Maxwell has every element to light up the stage every time without fail. Although his IPL exploits continue to disappoint despite a generously long association with the league.
RCB has got in Daniel Christian, a tantalizing purchase when looked in the context of any short-format league, and Finn Allen, who alight the Super Smash 2020-21 with a sensational run of form (512 runs at a strike rate of 194). Although they let go of Chris Morris, for whom they seemed willing to pay nearly as much in the auction as they had left him for. With Morris gone, in Kane Richardson and Kyle Jamieson lies RCB’s hopes to fix their long-standing problem of death bowling.
RCB have 5 matches in Kolkata, 4 in Ahmedabad, 3 in Chennai, and 2 in Mumbai, which means they still get two short-sized venues to watch out for in Kolkata and Mumbai, and not miss Bengaluru that much. Although, with the kind of armory they have, venues will not bother them too much.
On their batting front, skipper Virat Kohli has confirmed that he will be opening, which might just do the trick for RCB’s lack of intent in the middle-overs. Not to forget, the last time he did that was – wait for it – the record-breaking 2016 season of 973 runs with 4 centuries. Regardless of what they do, their loyal fan base and the chants of Ee Sala Cup Namde will not cease.
Pitch and conditions
The track at Chepauk is best known for its spin-conducive conditions and slightly bigger boundaries. Even as summer arrives in full swing, there might be a slight bit of dew for the bowlers to tackle towards the start of the season. Expect spinners to thrive, but that does not lot mean that pacers have nothing: expect a flurry of cutters, pace taken off the ball, shorter lengths, and alike variations. But both sides have explosive batsmen who feast on the spinners, and spin dominates in Chennai. Well, as if there was anything less exciting about this contest…
Playing Combinations for MI vs RCB
Quinton de Kock is not a sure starter owing to his quarantine protocols, which could give Chris Lynn a chance to start with Rohit Sharma with Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, and Pandya brothers following. Given the spin-friendly nature of Chennai, Piyush Chawla might cut ahead of Nathan Coulter-Nile, with Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah as pace partners.
Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma (C), Chris Lynn/Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (WK), Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter Nile/Piyush Chawla, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Having recovered from COVID-19, Devdutt Padikkal is set to start the proceedings with Virat Kohli at the top. Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal will be the spinners, although it remains to be seen who amongst Kyle Jamieson and Kane Richardson gets a look-in for the opener alongside Mohammad Siraj.
Predicted XI: Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (WK), Glenn Maxwell, Rajat Patidar/Mohammad Azharuddeen, Sachin Baby/Suyash Prabhudessai, Daniel Christian, Washington Sundar, Kyle Jamieson/Kane Richardson, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
MI vs RCB Head to Head
Played – 27 | MI – 17 | RCB – 10
MI vs RCB Broadcast Details
Match Timings – 7:30 PM IST
TV – Star Sports Network
Live Streaming – Disney+Hotstar
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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