MI vs RCB IPL 2021 Preview and Predictions: Can Kohli's RCB thwart Mumbai's opening salvo?
In this battle of champion vs challenger, both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma know their corner of the boxing ring.
And, we have another IPL
Exactly six months have passed since Mumbai Indians lifted the IPL 2020 trophy at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, beating Delhi Capitals by 5 wickets. And here we are again, all set for the first ball of IPL 2021 to be bowled.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians will face Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore in the season opener. A game with the two Indian superstars, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, at the forefront is a lot more than just another IPL match.
It will not just set the ball rolling for IPL 2021 and allow one team to get the highly coveted first-mover advantage but also help players, both Indian and overseas, to sharpen their tools for the upcoming T20 World Cup, which will be held in India as well, in October-November this year.
MI have the wood over RCB
Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore have faced each other 29 times before this encounter, with RCB winning 10 and Mumbai Indians winning 19.
The team that wins the toss will certainly want to chase as it will provide them an opportunity to assess the surface at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai and have a fair idea of the par score. It will also allow their power-hitters to cut loose, with the target in sight.
Mumbai Indians finished at the top of the pile after the end of the league stage in IPL 2020 and then cruised to the championship title - their fifth IPL trophy. Royal Challengers Bangalore also performed quite well and made it to the Eliminator where their campaign was cut short by Sunrisers Hyderabad.
De Kock serving quarantine, Kishan to open
Quinton de Kock will not be available for the season opener as he is serving a 7-day quarantine after having travelled from South Africa in the middle of an ODI series against Pakistan.
The team will open with captain Rohit Sharma and wicket-keeper batsman Ishan Kishan, with Suryakumar Yadav an automatic pick at number 3. With Kishan moving up the order, Saurabh Tiwary will bat at number 4.
The team then has a core of all-rounders in Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya, who will pose challenges in front of any bowling lineup.
With Mumbai having released James Pattinson, they are likely to go with Nathan Coulter-Nile alongside Trent Boult and their trump card Jasprit Bumrah. Rahul Chahar will be their leading spinner.
Excited to see Maxwell and de Villiers together?
Virat Kohli will open the batting for Royal Challengers Bangalore. He will be partnered by Devdutt Padikkal if the opening batsman is fit enough after recovering from a bout of COVID-19. The team has AB de Villiers and newly-acquired Glenn Maxwell at number 4 and 5. Well, that should be fun.
With Parthiv Patel having retired and Josh Philippe having pulled out of the season, finisher Mohammad Azharuddeen is likely to be in the role of the wicket-keeper.
The team has room for one of Kyle Jamieson or Daniel Christian in the overseas bowling all-rounder's role. Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Mohammed Siraj and Yuzvendra Chahal will comprise their bowling attack.
Top Batsman - Runs Scored - Virat Kohli (RCB), Kieron Pollard (MI)
Top Bowler - Wickets Taken - Yuzvendra Chahal (RCB), Hardik Pandya (MI)
Most Sixes - Glenn Maxwell (RCB), Kieron Pollard (MI)
Here are the predicted playing XIs:
Royal Challengers Bangalore – Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, Mohd. Azharuddeen (WK), Kyle Jamieson/Daniel Christian, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Kane Richardson, Mohammed Siraj & Yuzvendra Chahal.
Mumbai Indians – Rohit Sharma (C), Ishan Kishan (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Saurabh Tiwary, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Trent Boult & Jasprit Bumrah.
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