Derby time

Plot:

Every year when the IPL begins, there is talk of how teams stack up, which players are missing for initial games and past records. All that has settled, and now it’s time for the focus to move onto the field. Mumbai Indians kick-start their campaign in the landmark 10th edition of the IPL against neighbours, Rising Pune Supergiant. The Maharashtra derby is the perfect way for us to begin our campaign, as adrenaline will be running high, facing a team hailing from the same state.

The Maharashtra derby occurred twice last year and both RPS and MI have a win a piece. History is set to repeat itself, given that both teams played their first IPL game of the previous season against each other. The only difference this year is that the venue is Pune, as opposed to the Wankhede. The last time they played in Pune, Rohit Sharma smacked an unbeaten 85 to help MI chase down 160. There are a few selection headaches heading into our first game and Rohit Sharma admitted to the same during the press conference in Mumbai a few days ago.

Mumbai Indians have a record to set straight! We haven’t started the IPL well in the recent past, having won just 2 games (2016), 1 game (2015) and none (2014) in our first five games. Like Mumbai Indians, Rising Pune Supergiant couldn’t make it to the final four in 2016. A good start will be the perfect recipe to build confidence early in the season for both the teams.

Stage:

Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

The pitch in Pune usually stays uniform across the match duration! 60% of the matches at this venue have been won by the chasing team, so that may just be the way to go for whoever wins the toss. Rising Pune Supergiant are yet to win a game over here, having failed to taste success in 4 outings.

Acts:

Pune’s new blokes:

At the IPL auction, Imran Tahir went unsold, despite being the number 1 ranked T20I bowler at the time and at present. He has played all his IPL matches for Delhi Daredevils and will look to get off the blocks early with Rising Pune Supergiant. On the other hand, Ben Stokes was the man of the auction, with all teams going helter-skelter over him. Will Stokes live up to his reputation?

Rohit Sharma returns:

Rohit Sharma had a frustrating injury lay-off and is raring to go. He got back to competitive cricket last month, but is yet to hit top gear. He scored an unbeaten, match-winning 85 against RPS in his last outing here and will look to get rolling in the first game itself.

MS Dhoni – the non-skipper:

This will be the first IPL game that MS Dhoni will play in and not captain his side. After relieving himself of international captaincy earlier this year, Rising Pune Supergiant chose Australian Steven Smith to take the reins. Mumbai will have to contend with a dangerous batsman who won’t be burdened with captaincy duties.

Stats:

  • Kieron Pollard needs 42 runs to complete 2000 IPL runs.
  • Ajinkya Rahane has gone past 40 every second game for Rising Pune Supergiant.
  • Rising Pune Supergiant have 0 wins at their home ground so far.

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