The IPL 2018 opener will be the 23rd time when MI and CSK square off in the tournament, where MI holds 12-10 lead over Dhoni and co.
Mumbai: Time to talk is over…almost. The time to lock horns is here as the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 is set for a blockbuster opener as Mumbai Indians (MI) square off against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.
This will be the 25th time that these two sides will face each other in Twenty20s and 23rd time in the IPL, with MI enjoying 13-11 lead (overall) and 6-4 (overall) in India’s financial capital. MI also hold an edge over CSK, with 12-10 win-loss ratio (5-2 at Wankhede), in their 22 IPL battles.
The Men in Yellow or as some like to call them, the Manchester United of IPL – loved, hated, but hardly-ever ignored – are making a return to cricket’s widely watched domestic T20 league following a two-year suspension due to the spot-fixing saga. CSK will like to make their IPL comeback memorable and win the opening game.
Defending champions, Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, will like to brush aside their tendency of being the late bloomers and losing the first few games. Although there are going to be battles within battles – Ravindra Jadeja vs Hardik Pandya and Dwanye Bravo vs Kieron Pollard, the MI vs CSK encounter will be a battle of cores as the teams have retained their core of players via player retentions and at the auction.
While MI core consists of Rohit, Pandya brothers – Hardik and Krunal –, Jasprit Bumrah, Pollard and Mitchell McClenaghan, CSK have Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Bravo and Murali Vijay.
However, the IPL opener will also be an opportunity to see how the other Jharkhand boy and a possible MS Dhoni successor, playing for MI, Ishan Kishan does. He was India’s captain as they missed out winning the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh a few years ago. While Kishan’s then teammate and explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant made it to Team India before him, Pant’s failure to cash in on the limited opportunities, means a chance for Kishan to raise his credentials and be in contention for a spot in limited-overs squad whenever opportunity arises in the future.
Kishan and the explosive West Indian Evin Lewis at the top with Rohit, Hardik, Pollard, JP Duminy, Krunal, Suryakumar Yadav in the middle, means MI have a powerful batting unit.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned side, meanwhile, will see an end of an era and a beginning of a new bowling order under Bumrah’s leadership as Lasith Malinga will no longer play the event as a bowler and turns mentor while Harbhajan Singh dons Yellow over Blue, which he wore over 10 seasons of IPL.
For CSK, while they will have to do a bit of jugglery at the top with the likes of Sam Billings, Faf, Shane Watson, Murali Vijay and Ambati Rayudu providing enough options for the openers’ slots, their middle-order of Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwaye Bravo possesses solid skills to counter MI’s bowling attack.
While CSK managed to retain majority of their core, they could not retain R Ashwin. However, the management has roped in Harbhajan, Karn Sharma and Imran Tahir to bolster team’s spin-bowling attack, which also has Jadeja as two pacers from the likes of Mark Wood, Shardul Thakur and Lungi Ngidi will take the field for CSK in IPL 2018 opener.
Predicted playing XIs:
Mumbai Indians: Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Rohit Sharma (captain), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell McClenaghan, Akila Dananjaya / Mustafizur Rahman, Rahul Chahar / Pradeep Sangwan.
Chennai Super Kings: Sam Billings/Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Kedar Jadhav, Dwyane Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Karn Sharma, Mark Wood / Lungi Ngidi, Shardul Thakur.
Head to head IPL record:
Games played: 22
Mumbai Indians: 12 wins
Chennai Super Kings: 10 wins
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