Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Mumbai Indians (MI), two teams which have not won any title in the last five sessions, are set to play their opening match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore on Thursday.
Both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians had come close to winning the championship title but failed to perform well at crucial matches. The teams could not claim the title despite reaching the finals.
Interestingly, both the teams have changed leadership this time around. Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian team that won the under-19 Cricket World Cup in 2008, will lead the Royal Challengers Bangalore, taking over Daniel Vettori.
Mumbai Indians too have put Australia's most successful captain Ricky Ponting in charge, replacing Harbhajan Singh. The team must be looking forward to his leadership to pull through during crucial games.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Young and dynamic batsman Virat Kohli will lead the team this time. The team has good batsmen like Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers, and the captain himself, who can turn a match around with their unorthodox style of sending the ball over the fence.
Villiers will miss the first match due to his commitments to his state side, Titans, in South Africa's ongoing domestic Twenty20 competition, and Indian strike bowler Zaheer Khan is likely to sit out due to injury.
Spinners like Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori and Murali Karthik can challenge any opponent but the team lacks good and consistent fast bowlers. Caribbean speedster Ravi Rampaul is raring to go but Zaheer, who is known for taking early wickets, is likely to likely to be rested. Other bowlers like Abhimanyu Mithun and R Vinay are yet to prove their prowess.
Mumbai Indians: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting will lead the team this time. The batting line-up looks strong with Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dwayne Smith, Ambati Rayudu and James Franklin. They may not have big hitters like RCB but have players who can rotate the strike as well as hit the ball over the fence.
The team has wicket-takers in Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ojha and Munaf Patel, but highest wicket taker of the IPL, Malinga, will miss the first match against RCB due to a sore back. Other bowlers - Jacob Oram, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Mitchell Johnson - are expected to take his place.
The spin department of the team is a worry factor with Harbhajan Singh failing to take wickets in the past.
Verdict: Both the teams look strong and balanced. RCB has home ground advantage but their slow start in the past gives the feeling that they may fumble. Thursday's match should be a tight one but Virat Kohli's men should turn home crowd support to a win.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), AB De Villiers, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Andrew McDonald, Arun Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Chris Gayle, Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, Daniel Vettori, Harshal Patel, Jaidev Unadkat, K P Appanna, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Moises Henriques, Murali Kartik, Muttiah Muralitharan, Pankaj Singh, Prasanth Parameswaran, R Vinay Kumar, Ravi Rampaul, Rudra Pratap Singh, S Aravind, Sandeep Warrier, Saurabh Tiwary, Sheldon Jackson, Sunny Sohal, Syed Mohammad, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Vijay Zol, Zaheer Khan.
Mumbai Indians: Ricky Ponting (captain), Abu Nechim Ahmed, Akshar Patel, Aditya Tare, Aiden Blizzard, Ambati Rayudu, Amitoze Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Harbhajan Singh, Jacob Oram, Jalaj Saxena, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Munaf Patel, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Phil Hughes, Pawan Suyal, Pragyan Ojha, Rishi Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Suryakumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe, Yuzvendra Singh Chahal.
Where to Watch Live
The match will begin at 8:00 pm IST and will be telecast live on Sony Set Max channel.