The IPL is finally back and it can’t get a bigger opening match than this, colossal Mumbai Indians taking on three-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings. While Mumbai have had Chennai’s number the last four times, can MS Dhoni-led CSK side change their fortunes with a win off the first game?
Mumbai Indians - W W W W L
Can a side get more dominant than this in the IPL? Nope, Mumbai Indians have in the past season served other sides some humble pies, including CSK, who they beat four times during the course of the last season. With the inclusion of Trent Boult, Chris Lynn, Mumbai are only looking stronger on paper while surely they would be looking to put the same on the field. Ahead of the encounter, Rohit Sharma confirmed that he would open the batting alongside Quinton de Kock, which eliminates Chris Lynn from the equation. A lot of questions about the team combination but nothing bigger than the form of Hardik Pandya, who would be returning for a competitive match the first time since his injury last year.
Chennai Super Kings - L W L L W
A mixed bag of results for Chennai Super Kings to finish off the 2019 IPL season, where they went from defending champions to becoming champions yet again. This year, however, they would have to do an extraordinary job, in the absence of their batting pillar, Suresh Raina, who scored 383 runs, at an average of 23.93. They will miss him this season, as the southpaw has pulled out of the tournament due to personal reasons. In Raina’s absence, it is expected that CSK would go with Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis at the top of the order while Ambati Rayudu will slot into the No.3 position. Can they change their fortune? We’ll have to wait and see on that one!
Mumbai Indians - Quinton de Kock
Rohit Sharma might go as the favourite batsmen for a lot of people but the batsmen at the other end, Quinton de Kock might very well walk away as the best. Last season, the southpaw tallied 529 runs in 16 innings, at an average of 35.26, with an average slightly less than Hardik Pandya, who bats in the middle order. While CSK have managed to pick off Rohit early on last season, with Deepak Chahar swinging the ball, it might be slightly tricky to dismiss the in-form Proteas batsman, who would be looking to punish the men in yellow from the very first ball. Expect some fireworks from the left-hander, who clearly knows how to hit a ball or two.
Chennai Super Kings - Faf du Plessis
While Faf du Plessis had missed four games last season, he was still an integral and living part of the franchise during their run to the final. The Proteas opener scored 396 runs, in 12 innings at an average 36, clearly indicating that there will be blood against the Mumbai bowlers. Interestingly, CSK’s best batsman against Mumbai over the course of the IPL has been southpaw Suresh Raina, who has scored 730 runs against the four-time IPL champions but will miss out on this encounter and a large chunk of the tournament. In his absence, MS Dhoni would be looking at his openers to go berserk in an all-or-nothing season for the franchise.
Mumbai Indians - Jasprit Bumrah
The right-arm pacer has cranked up the pacer in the Indian Premier League and around the world since his debut in the format seven years ago. Since then, he’s picked up 182 wickets, at an average of 22.51. Last season, for the Paltans, he picked up 19 wickets, three more than his fellow pacer Lasith Malinga, who would be missing the tournament. In the absence of the franchise’s leading wicket-taker, the onus would be on Bumrah to pick up wickets and crumble CSK’s fragile top-order as they seek to overturn their fortunes in the Middle East.
Chennai Super Kings - Imran Tahir
Let’s make it clear, he is MS Dhoni’s go-to-man after the powerplay phase of the innings. If there is one man that Dhoni seems to often go to when searching for wickets, it is the willy spinner, Imran Tahir. They say that age is just a number, in Tahir’s case, it is true as the 40-year-old spinner has cranked up his bowling in the last two years. Ever since his move to Chennai, the leg-spinner has been getting better at what he does, with his magical deliveries bamboozling the batsmen around the world. He finished the CPL as the third-highest wicket-taker, with 15 wickets indicating that the fuel is still not over from the tank, as he seeks to be the franchise’s top bowler this season too.
Mumbai Indians Squad: Rohit Sharma(c), Quinton de Kock(w), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah, Dhawal Kulkarni, Saurabh Tiwary, James Pattinson, Aditya Tare, Mitchell McClenaghan, Chris Lynn, Jayant Yadav, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, Sherfane Rutherford, Digvijay Deshmukh, Prince Balwant Rai
Chennai Super Kings Squad: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni(w/c), Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir, Murali Vijay, Karn Sharma, Josh Hazlewood, Lungi Ngidi, Monu Kumar, Mitchell Santner, Sam Curran, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, N Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, KM Asif
Chennai Super Kings - Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dwayne Bravo/Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur
Mumbai Indians - Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile/Mitchell McClenaghan, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
When to Watch: Sep 19, 7.30 PM IST
Where to Watch: Star Sports Network and Hotstar (in India)