The long and frustrating wait for millions of cricket fans will be over soon as defending champions Mumbai Indians will lock horns with three-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the big inaugural clash of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Saturday.
The high voltage encounter between the two most popular teams will mark the opening of the thirteenth edition of Dream11 IPL at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE on Saturday at 7.30 pm.
After months of uncertainty and non-activities on the cricket field, the IPL will prove to be a welcome break for the cricket crazy nation, which is reeling under the Coronavirus pandemic.
Since the IPL is happening in the UAE and that too without spectators, Indian fans will have to catch all the action on their TV sets. Despite that, the fans are excited and looking forward to seeing their favourite cricketers on the field again.
It will be a treat for the cricket lovers with perhaps the two best sides meeting in the first outing. Together MI and CSK have won the IPL titles seven times. MIâ€™s sensational one-run victory against their traditional rivals CSK in the last yearâ€™s summit clash was their fourth triumph since the IPL launched in 2008.
Coming back to this season, MI will go into the match with a better psychological advantage. Abu Dhabi is their home ground this season and they know the pitch conditions better having practiced at the venue for the last few weeks. Besides, they are leading the head-to-head record quite convincingly. Both teams have faced each other 28 times so far in the previous 12 years with MI winning 17 times, while CSK have managed only 11 victories.
The holders, led by dashing opener Rohit Sharma, are upbeat with everything going as planned. They have no hiccups before the start of the IPL and their team also looks perfectly balanced with the right mixture of youth and experience.
On the other hand, CSK are going through a tough time with multiple factors affecting their preparations ever since they landed in Dubai around a month ago.
A couple of players and members of the support staff had tested positive for COVID-19 and then, vice-captain and their most successful batsman Suresh Raina pulled out for personal reasons. Experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh too made himself unavailable and did not travel with the team.
Known for his expertise in crisis management and leading from the front, all the other factors will hardly make any difference to CSK captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The veteran of many a battle, Dhoni will like to start the long-season with a win under his belt on Saturday evening.
Defending champs will miss the services of Lasith Malinga, who was instrumental in guiding MI to a thrilling win in 2019, but they have quality players such as Jasprit Bumrah and ace all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Anmolpreet Singh, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell McClenaghan, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Mohsin Khan, Prince Balwant Rai Singh, Digvijay Deshmukh, Hardik Pandya, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Anukul Roy, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ishan Kishan, Quinton de Kock, Aditya Tare.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (captain), N Jagadeesan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, KM Asif, Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay, MS Dhoni, Josh Hazlewood, Kedar Jadhav, Karn Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Ambati Rayudu, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Faf du Plessis, Shardul Thakur, Mitchell Santner, Dwayne Bravo, Lungi Ngidi, Sam Curran, Monu Kumar, Shane Watson, Sai Kishore.