The defending champions, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), are all set to take on the Mumbai Indians (MI) in the first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015.
KKR have a good balanced side with some powerful overseas players like Shakib al Hasan, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Pat Cummins, Andre Russell and some talented Indian players like their skipper Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey Umesh Yadav and Yusuf Pathan.
On the other hand, Rohit Sharma led MI are approaching this season to regain lost glory. Corey Anderson, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Josh Hazlewood, Aaron Finch, Lendl Simmons form their international bank of players. They also have some exciting Indian players with the likes of Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Unmukt Chand, Pragyan Ojha, Parthiv Patel, Aditya Tare and more.
One can expect an exciting encounter between these two sides to mark the start of the eighth season of the IPL. Here are the key clashes that are expected to occur during this match:
Robin Uthappa vs Lasith Malinga: Uthappa was the ultimate star for KKR in the last season where he scored 660 runs with an average of 44.00 at an astonishing strike-rate of 137.78. On the other hand, Malinga needs no introduction as he is Mumbai's bowling spearhead. His yorkers are deadly and they are the most difficult to defend. He picked up 16 wickets in 10 matches until he pulled out because of an injury and that was a big blow to MI. This year he is back again and this is going to be a thrilling encounter.
Rohit Sharma vs Sunil Narine: This is going to be one of the most interesting battle in this match. Sharma, on one hand, will look to lead from the front with his bat and on the other, Narine will come back with his legitimate bowling action. It will be interesting to see whether Narine continues to cast his spell and make it difficult for the batsmen like he did in the past.
Aaron Finch vs Morne Morkel: Finch had an average run during the recently concluded ICC world Cup with the bat. On the other hand, Morkel picked up 17 wickets for his side and has had a decent World Cup with the ball. Finch, having played for other franchises before, did not make much of an impact and this time he would like to prove his worth. Morkel picked up 12 wickets in his first stint with the KKR last season and would look to continue to pick more wickets for his team.
Shakib al Hasan vs Harbhajan Singh: Both of them are world class players in their own rights and both of them have performed decently for their respective sides. Shakib will be a crucial player for KKR in their middle-order and his four overs with the ball will be equally important. Harbhajan Singh too would like to prove his point in this match and help MI to kick-start the IPL 2015 in winning ways.
Kieron Pollard vs Umesh Yadav: People are aware of what Pollard can do to the cricket ball. If he gets going, then there's no boundary in the world big enough to stop him. Yadav, on the other hand, has had a good World Cup with the ball and picked up 18 wickets only after Mitchell Starc and Trent Boult, who topped the list of highest wicket-takers in the World Cup 2015. Yadav's pace and movement versus Pollard's hard hitting, this surely will keep the fans glued to the TV screens.
This match can promise a cracking start to what should be another thrilling season of IPL.