Just less than five months ago the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 season got over in the UAE amid the coronavirus pandemic. The action shifts to India now. Once again, the IPL will be held behind closed doors across six venues this time around. Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2021 season opener in Chennai.

The Rohit Sharma-led side have won two successive IPL honours and will be aiming to do start well in the opener against Virat Kohli’s RCB, who reached the playoffs last time. The two teams shared the spoils last season during their two league meetings. With no home venues on offer this season, it remains to be seen how teams get the job done in neutral stadiums. This will be a new test for players on Indian conditions. Ahead of a blockbuster IPL 2021 opening battle, we present all the necessary details to guide you through.

Key details of the match

The IPL 2021 opener is set to be held at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. The match will be starting at 7:30 PM IST. Fans can watch the action live on the Star Sports Network in their preferred languages. One can also stream the match live on the Disney+ Hotstar app (paid subscription).

Here’s the preview

MI have a core side at their disposal and they addressed the key areas well in the IPL 2021 Auction. MI strengthened their bowling department and added a few all-rounders. MI have a definite shape as far as their team composition is concerned. With a settled unit on offer, MI will go with a touch of familiarity. Rohit has been an exceptional leader and this will help MI once again.  In the first match on April 9, the five-time IPL winners will be without Quinton de Kock, who is serving a mandatory quarantine period of seven days. Australia’s swashbuckling batsman Chris Lynn is likely to get a game. The rest of the team is pretty much from what we witnessed last season. MI present a major threat, especially with a dream pace attack. They bat long and strong and there are quality players across every department.

RCB were busy in the IPL 2021 Auction and several new acquisitions were made. After releasing several big names, RCB took a major gamble on Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell. They also broke the banks for New Zealand all-rounder Kyle Jamieson. It will be interesting to watch the duo in terms of what they bring to the table. RCB need to look beyond Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers for contributions if they are to do well this season. The side will be missing Devdutt Padikkal, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.  Mohammed Azharuddeen could be brought in at the top. He is an exciting talent and this is a big chance for him to test himself. Finn Allen could make his IPL debut after replacing Josh Philippe, who withdrew citing personal reasons. RCB will want their bowlers to make an impact on a collective basis. That could keep them in the game. Washington Sundar’s impact in the powerplay overs will be an important aspect.

Pitch report and weather conditions

The pitch is expected to be flat and slow. Spinners will be crucial as the match goes on. However, the pacers will be crucial with their variations on offer. Slower deliveries, cutters and yorkers are expected to be seen. Taking pace off the ball will be crucial here in Chennai. For the batsmen, the slow nature of the pitch will mean that they need to keep their shots in check. Rotation of strike will be important as well. In terms of conditions, the weather will be hot and humid in Chennai.

Probable playing XIs: MI vs RCB

MI probable playing XI

Rohit Sharma (c), Chris Lynn, Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah.

RCB probable playing XI

Mohammed Azharuddeen, Virat Kohli (c), Finn Allen (wk), AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, Kyle Jamieson, Washington Sundar, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal

Which players can be the top picks in the Dream11 team?

Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav are the trump cards. The two have been on a fine run and promise plenty of fireworks in Mumbai’s batting. Surya leads the show with a consistent set of seasons, whereas, Kishan can take the game away from RCB. Both players showed their promise in the India-England T20Is.

Hardik Pandya is another top pick. The hard-hitting finisher can power MI to big scores, besides also keeping up with the asking rate if they bat second. His enormous strike rate at the death overs makes him a must in this Dream11 team.

Yuzvendra Chahal’s trajectory shows he can fire for the RCB. With 19 wickets from 13 games against MI in the IPL, Chahal can be the answer in the bowling department. He has maintained a fine run of form in the cash-rich league.

Dream11 fantasy: Captain Choices

Virat Kohli: The 32-year-old stands the best chance as skipper in Dream11 Fantasy teams. Kohli is in form and a new opening role could see him be fired up.

Suryakumar Yadav: The versatile batsman can also be counted upon as captain after having dominated the scenes over the last three years. He is a safety net.

Dream11 fantasy: Vice-captain Choices

Hardik Pandya: He can be dangerous for MI at the death with his immense hitting powers. With a deadly strike rate at the death, Pandya can shore up points. He is highly valuable in the field.

AB de Villiers: Another player who can be a match-winner. The veteran T20 star has been a resourceful hero for RCB over the years and his contributions could be pivotal.

Other choices: Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Ishan Kishan (vc), Yuzvendra Chahal (vc), Washington Sundar (vc).

Dream11 team prediction (Option 1)

Batsmen: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Suryakumar Yadav (vc), Ishan Kishan (wk)

All-rounders: Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar

Bowlers: Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj, Nathan Coulter-Nile

Dream11 team prediction (Option 2)

Batsmen: Virat Kohli (c), Chris Lynn, AB de Villiers, Suryakumar Yadav (vc), Ishan Kishan (wk)

All-rounders: Hardik Pandya, Glenn Maxwell, Kieron Pollard

Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kyle Jamieson

Head-to-head record

The two teams have faced each other on 27 occasions. MI have the edge with 17 wins. RCB have won the remaining 10.

Match prediction

With no Padikkal, RCB could struggle a bit. Once again the onus is mainly on Kohli and ABD. The likes of Maxwell and Jamieson need to justify their price tags with the focus being on them. MI are a better-looking side with a lot of pedigree. They have the resources to hurt RCB. We feel MI will win this match for the experience and balance.

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