Cricket's biggest carnival has kicked off its 10th Edition. After a repeat result of the IPL 2016 final in the opening game between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore, the first leg of the Maharashtra Derby will be held today in Pune. Two-time IPL Champions, Mumbai Indians will take on the Rising Pune Supergiants.
Mumbai have a task at hand this season. With the likes of Rohit Sharma and Malinga returning after an injury ridden season and their T20 specialists Kieron Pollard and Jos Buttler out of form, MI might find it difficult to rid themselves of the 'slow-starters' tag.
Selection woes for Mumbai
Rohit underwent a thigh surgery in the latter half of 2016 and just after he was fit to play again he suffered a blow to his knee. The Mumbai captain will be eager to make a statement with the bat and find a place in the Indian team once again. After a comprehensive Test season at home, the number 1 test side didn't seem to miss the services of Rohit Sharma.
Wankhede favourite, Lasith Malinga who missed out on the IPL in 2016 due to injury will be making a comeback this year. He currently holds the record for most IPL wickets(143) and is 19 wickets ahead of the next best, Amit Mishra(124). It was under Malinga's guidance that Bumrah grew into a death overs specialist.
The top order heavy Mumbai Indians will have to be careful with their team selection. With one too many overseas players, coach Jayawardene will have to take some tough calls and make sure they have enough firepower in their batting line-up. RPS on the other hand, have a power packed, in-form batting.
RPS with the upper hand?
Rising Pune Supergiant's newly appointed captain Steven Smith will have a lot of support in the batting department. Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni and England southpaw Ben Stokes will be a formidable opposition for the MI bowlers.
The RPS management will have to pick between the two leg spinners, Imran Tahir and Adam Zampa, although the more experienced and wicket taking Tahir would be the likely choice. Mumbai, on the other hand, will need to replace Malinga who's on national duty for this game. One of Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim Southee and Mitchell Johnson will need to step up.
It would be interesting to see the dynamics among the RPS players, given the recently concluded Australia tour that witnessed more than just the usual sledging. Add to that the controversial move by the Pune owners who replaced the highly experienced and successful captain MS Dhoni with Smith.
- This will be MSD's first game as non-captain in the IPL.
- Three of the four high scoring games played here have been chased down.
- Pune haven't won a single game at home, while Mumbai have won all their matches in Pune.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma(c), Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Jos Buttler, Parthiv Patel, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Tim Southee, Mitchell Johnson
Rising Pune Supergiants: Steven Smith(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Ben Stokes, MS Dhoni, Rajat Bhatia, Ashoke Dinda, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Sharma