Mumbai Indians take on Chennai Super Kings in the opening game of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League on Saturday. The clash in Abu Dhabi, between the two most successful teams of the T20 tournament, marks a long-awaited return to action for India’s top male cricketers.
Since the coronavirus-enforced lockdown began in March, England brought back international cricket by hosting West Indies, Ireland, Pakistan and Australia. But for India, it has been a lengthy break away from the game.
Which is why the excitement surrounding IPL 2020 has been palpable for players and fans alike. This isn’t the first time the IPL is being held outside India, but this has certainly been the longest interval between two editions of the tournament.
And we have a cracking match on our hands to kick-start proceedings in the United Arab Emirates. The last time Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings took on each other was in the IPL 2019 final, which ended up being a rollercoaster ride with a nail-biting finish. This time around as well, the two teams are expected to produce another close contest.
The players may well be rusty after being away for so long but they can be expected to make up for it with their vigour to get back to professional cricket.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians look like a settled unit heading into IPL 2020. Rohit Sharma and Co have been slow starters traditionally but they would be keen to start strong and build some steam.
Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand, have had precious little momentum in the buildup to the tournament. From senior players Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh pulling out due to personal reasons to 13 members of the unit testing positive for Covid-19, the last month has been a tough period for CSK.
Luckily for them, though, in Mahendra Singh Dhoni, they have arguably the finest leader for such a situation. The former India captain is known for his calmness under pressure and there have been no indications to suggest that CSK has panicked.
The key players for Mumbai Indians this year will once again be Rohit, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah. Sri Lankan legend Lasith Malinga’s withdrawal was a setback for them but they would be hoping the likes of Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile can make up for the loss.
Chennai Super Kings will once again rely heavily on Dhoni, not just as a leader but as a player as well. With Raina and Harbhajan out, the onus will be on MSD to rally rest of the squad. The form of seniors like Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu will be crucial as well.
For CSK, revenge of sorts will also be on the cards as they lost all four meetings against MI in the 2019 season. In fact, MI are the only team against whom CSK have a less than 50% win record in IPL history.
MI v CSK - head to head
|Played||CSK wins||MI wins||Tied||NR||CSK win %||MI win %|
|MI v CSK||28||11||17||0||0||39.28%||60.72%|
– The highest IPL team total in Abu Dhabi is 206/4 by Kings XI Punjab against Chennai Super Kings in 2014.
– If CSK wins the IPL 2020 opener under MS Dhoni, it will be his 100th IPL win as CSK skipper.
– Rohit Sharma needs six more sixes to reach the 200-six mark in the IPL.
|Rohit Sharma||Dhawal Kulkarni||Hardik Pandya||Ishan Kishan|
|Sherfane Rutherford||Jasprit Bumrah||Jayant Yadav||Quinton de Kock|
|Suryakumar Yadav||James Pattinson||Kieron Pollard||Aditya Tare|
|Anmolpreet Singh||Mitchell McClenaghan||Krunal Pandya|
|Chris Lynn||Rahul Chahar||Anukul Roy|
|Saurabh Tiwary||Trent Boult||Digvijay Deshmukh|
|Nathan Coulter-Nile||Prince Balwant Rai Singh|
|Ruturaj Gaikwad||Lungi Ngidi||Dwayne Bravo||MS Dhoni|
|Faf du Plessis||Deepak Chahar||Ravindra Jadeja||N Jagadeesan|
|Shane Watson||Karn Sharma||Mitchell Santner|
|Ambati Rayudu||Imran Tahir||Sam Curran|
|M Vijay||Shardul Thakur|
|Kedar Jadhav||Monu Kumar|
|R. Sai Kishore|
(With IPLT20.com inputs)