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Preview: MI, RCB lock horns for the IPL 2021 opener

Five-time IPL winners and defending champions Mumbai Indians will kick-start IPL 2021 with a face off against Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 9th. The game will be held in Chennai’s Chepauk stadium at 7.30 PM IST.

Between a team that is defending its fifth title and a team that is hell-bent on breaking a trophy drought, the opener will surely be a match to watch out for.

Ahead of the match between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore, here are a few talking points:

MI keen to break their first-match defeat trend

The Men in Blue and Gold have consistently lost their first games in the previous IPL tournaments. In fact, Mumbai Indians have lost each of their first games since the 2013 IPL season.

Coming from a place where most of their players have just played a lot of international matches, and the fact that they lifted a fifth IPL trophy less than five months ago, MI will be raring to go and break this jinx.

Quinton not available for the first game

Captain Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock have been Mumbai Indians’ preferred opening pair for at least two years now. However, the latter joins the MI camp after completing national duties and will undergo a mandatory 7-day quarantine. Therefore, this game will see a new pair open the game for the Men in Blue and Gold.

Chris Lynn, who was in an unforgiving mood in the Big Bash League, might be a great backup option.

A look at MI’s bowlers and sluggish pitches

Playing with ace pacer Jasprit Bumrah and two foreign speedsters has worked in the favour of Mumbai Indians before, with Rahul Chahar being the specialist spinner while getting ample help from Krunal Pandya.

However, given Chennai’s sluggish nature, it would be interesting to see where an experienced Piyush Chawla might fit.

Opening concerns for RCB

Devdutt Padikkal, in his debut IPL season, scored the most runs for his team. However, he only recently joined the RCB camp after recovering from COVID-19. Whether he will be available for selection is the million-dollar question.

Lack of experienced pacers in RCB

RCB’s foreign imports in the bowling department have little to no experience of playing in the sub-continent conditions. It will be interesting to see how Kyle Jamieson, on whom big bucks were spent, will fare in India after a rather forgettable home series against a visiting Australia and Bangladesh recently.

Head-to-head numbers for MIvRCB

The two teams have played 27 matches between them, with MI winning 17 out of them and drawing none. Virat Kohli has the most runs for RCB vs MI, at 695. For MI, Kieron Pollard has the most runs - 539.

From the current team, Bumrah has the most wickets for MI - 19, and Yuzvendra Chahal has the most for RCB at 21 wickets.

The previous encounter between MI and RCB

The last time the two teams faced off, it was a heated encounter. Suryakumar Yadav was on fire with a belligerent knock of 79* (43), which lead the Men in Blue and Gold to claim a 5-wicket victory over RCB, chasing down the 165-run target with five balls to spare.

The first IPL 2021 game will start at 7.30 PM IST in Chennai’s Chepauk stadium. Paltan, are you ready?