Mumbai Indians will have the option of including the exciting Jos Buttler in the playing XI for the opening match of IPL 2016. The Rising Pune Supergiants are set to make their IPL debuts with a team filled with IPL pedigree, led by one of the best captains the tournament has seen in MS Dhoni.
With Buttler being brought for what was pretty much a snippet, the Mumbai Indians will want to unleash the Englishman at the first time of asking, and with the pitch expected to aid the batsmen, the RPS bowlers could have a long evening if the wicketkeeper decides to light the Wankhede up.
While MI's batting department looks settled, and indeed strengthened by the signing of Buttler, there are concerns in the bowling lineup, particularly considering Lasith Malinga, their spearhead, is out through injury.
Jasprit Bumrah will have to take over the lead pace bowler duties, while in Mitchell McClenaghan, Marchant de Lange and Tim Southee, Ricky Ponting and Rohit Sharma, the coach and captain respectively, have three solid options to choose from. If they plan to go with just the one foreign bowler, the likely scenario, McClenaghan is expected to be the first choice.
RPS have a fair few obvious choices, who should make it to the playing XI without too many worries. Dhoni, Steve Smith, R Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane and Faf Du Plessis are players who should be a shoo-in in the playing XI, while Kevin Pietersen and Mitchell Marsh are also expected to feature against the Mumbai Indians.
The major problem for the Rising Pune Supergiants is in the spin department, as R Ashwin is their only established Indian spin option. They have Adam Zampa, so impressive for Australia in the World T20, to call on, but if he gets into the team, that would mean dropping a foreign batsman/all-rounder.
Having gone such a long way to grab Murugan Ashwin in the IPL Player auction, it is likely that Dhoni and Fleming will give the leg-spinner a go, hoping the don't-know-what-he-is-about factor will help them in getting a few MI wickets.
Likely playing XI: Mumbai Indians: Lendl Simmons, Rohit Sharma (C), Unmukt Chand, Jos Buttler, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, J Suchith, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah.
Rising Pune Supergiants: Ajinkya Rahane, Faf Du Plessis, Steve Smith, Kevin Pietersen, MS Dhoni (C), Mitchell Marsh, R Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, M Ashwin.