Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to maintain their recent dominance over Mumbai Indians when the two teams clash in their opening match of the Indian Premier League 2023 season in Bengaluru on Sunday.
Having recorded three consecutive wins against Mumbai Indians in their last five meetings since IPL 2020, the RCB, who are still in search of the elusive title win, would want to make a winning start in front of their loyal fans at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
However, it remains to be seen how RCB will cope without players like Rajat Patidar and Josh Hazlewood, who both have been sidelined for at least the first half of this IPL due to injuries. Australian Glenn Maxwell is also unlikely to feature in Sunday's game.
While England's Will Jacks will miss the full season, it is to be seen how Maxwell shapes up given that he missed the last two ODIs for Australia against India in the recent series after playing the first match in Mumbai.
Patidar was RCB's third highest-scorer last year with 333 runs in eight matches at 55.50, including two fifties. He hit the fastest century by an Indian in IPL in the Qualifier 1. On the other hand, Australia's Hazlewood was the team's second most successful bowler with 20 wickets in 20 matches.
RCB will also have to wait for their Sri Lankan spin ace Wanindu Hasaranga, who is in New Zealand on national duty. He will miss a few opening games.
Nevertheless, the late inclusion of New Zealand's Michael Bracewell is expected to provide RCB with an aggressive batter lower down the order. The presence of Dinesh Karthik down the order also makes RCB a fearful side.
While captain Faf du Plessis and former skipper Virat Kohli are expected to do the heavy lifting in the top-order batting, pacers Harshal Patel and Mohammed Siraj will be the strike bowlers.
Du Plessis finished the inaugural SA20 as second most prolific batter with 369 runs last month, whereas Kohli will look to light up the IPL stage once again, having tasted success in white-ball cricket in recent months.
The inclusion of Reece Topley has provided a shot in the arm to RCB's bowling with a quality left-arm pacer who has a lot of specialities for the shortest format in the ranks.
Mumbai Indians ended the last IPL at the last spot in the points table with only four wins to show from 14 matches. The most successful team in IPL history with five trophies in their cabinet, Mumbai will aim to put their best foot forward against a formidable RCB side.
Without their ace bowler Jasprit Bumrah and Jhye Richardson who are ruled out for the season, MI's hopes will be pinned on Jofra Archer to fill the void and guide the other bowlers that the team management has marked out. Archer will have Australia's Jason Behrendorff for company along with Akash Madhwal.
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma and the experienced Suryakumar Yadav will be the linchpins in the batting department, which now features young players Tilak Verma, Dewald Brevis, Tristan Stubbs and Tim David. Ishan Kishan will be expected to attain consistency with the bat as he is also the team's earmarked wicketkeeper.
While Cameron Green is a valuable addition to the team, Mumbai Indians look a bit light on the spin front with former India spinner Piyush Chawla leading the pack that also features Kumar Kartikeya who auditioned for them last year with four matches.
The Teams (from):
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Faf du Plessis (c), Virat Kohli, Mohammad Siraj, Harshal Patel, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shahbaz Ahmed, Anuj Rawat, Akash Deep, Mahipal Lomror, Finn Allen, Suyash Prabhudesai, Karn Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, David Willey, Reece Topley, Himanshu Sharma, Manoj Bhandage, Rajan Kumar, Avinash Singh, Sonu Yadav, Michael Bracewell.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Tim David, Dewald Brevis, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan (wk), Tristan Stubbs, Vishnu Vinod, Cameron Green, Arjun Tendulkar, Ramandeep Singh, Shams Mulani, Nehal Wadhera, Hrithik Shokeen, Arshad Khan, Duan Jansen, Piyush Chawla, Kumar Kartikeya, Raghav Goyal, Jofra Archer, Jason Behrendorff, Akash Madhwal.
Match Starts at 7:30 pm IST.