Balanced Mumbai to lock horns with vibrant Bangalore
Two teams that have shown the promise but failed to deliver on big occasions come face to face when Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore clash in their opening match of the Indian Premier League in Bangalore on Thursday.
The Mumbai Indians are the big-spending side and have the Champions League Twenty20 Trophy to show for all the money shelled out on acquiring star players. Besides, Mumbai have also been runners-up once and made it to semi-finals twice in the previous IPL seasons.
With Ricky Ponting as captain this time, Mumbai would be hoping to lay their hands on the IPL trophy for the first time.
Image: Ricky Ponting
Photographs: Mumbai Indians
Mumbai a well balanced side
In the batting department, Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma would be looking to continue from where he left in the previous IPL where they amassed 333 and 433 runs respectively.
Senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar would open with either Dwayne Smith or James Franklin, both of whom can contribute to the team with their bowling as well.
Also Ponting, who has had a good outing in Australia's Big Bash and Shield Cricket tournaments since retiring from Test cricket, would be an asset at number three. Dinesh Karthik would give solidity to the middle-order.Boasting of three prolific wicket-takers in the IPL so far -- Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ojha and Munaf Patel -- Mumbai Indians look a well-balanced side.
Image: Sachin Tendulkar and Ambati Rayudu
Photographs: Mumbai Indians
Bhajji's form a worry
However, spinners were a tad disappointing for them in IPL-5 with Harbhajan Singh hardly making any impact. He scalped six wickets in 17 matches, while Ojha claimed nine wickets in as many matches.
Mumbai, in fact, are rocked by a problem of plenty as only four international cricketers are allowed to play in a match. There is lot to choose from the international basket given the presence of "million dollar buy" Glen Maxwell, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard, Jacob Oram, James Franklin and Malinga.
Image: Harbhajan Singh
Kohli to lead RCB
RCB, on the other hand, will take the field with the young and feisty Virat Kohli leading the team.
Known for being diffident in the initial stages of the IPL, RCB have, in their arsenal, swashbuckling characters like Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers, who can turn the game on its head in a jiffy.
Kohli is not too far behind having been RCB's leading run-getter (1639), but their over-dependence on Gayle has been a nightmare for the team.
The West Indian, with 1341 runs, has won countless games single-handedly, but still has to come up good in big matches.
Image: Virat Kohli
RCB sweat over Zaheer's fitness
RCB's main worry is their bowling with Zaheer Khan making a comeback from a calf injury which he sustained in a Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat last year.
Abhimanyu Mithun and R Vinay will be waiting to give better performance.
Caribbean speedster Ravi Rampaul along with senior pros like Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori and Murali Karthik, are expected to bolster RCB attack.
Image: Zaheer Khan
Photographs: Royal Challengers Bangalore