MS Dhoni, India, Ben Stokes, England, IPL 2017
MS Dhoni and Ben Stokes will hope to make a big impact when they play for RPS in IPL 2017IANS

Ben Stokes, with a price tag of Rs 14 crore hovering, will want to make the perfect debut when the Rising Pune Supergiant host the Mumbai Indians in Match 2 of IPL 2017 on Thursday.

The MCA Stadium in Pune will hope to see a high-scorer in the Indian Premier League, just like the one from Wednesday, when the Sunrisers Hyderabad proved to be too strong for RCB.

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That is certainly a possibility, looking at the batting strength of the two teams.

RPS boast of Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni and Faf Du Plessis.

Mumbai Indians have Rohit Sharma, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu and the Pandya brothers – Krunal and Hardik.

If the majority of these batsmen find form in this Maharashtra derby, we could be in for another match where the scores zoom past 200.

Much of that will also depend on the pitch in Pune, although the omens are good, considering this ground has averaged a score of around 170 in the past three seasons.

RPS and their team

R Ashwin and Mitchell Marsh are out of IPL 2016, with the former's unavailability, in particular, set to hit the Rising Pune Supergiant hard, considering they do not really have another quality Indian spinner in their squad.

While the batting looks pretty good – Rahane, Du Plessis, Mayank Agarwal, Smith, Dhoni and Stokes should be the top six – the bowling is not something that leaves anyone with any real confidence. There will be pressure on Stokes to deliver with the ball as well, while Adam Zampa or Imran Tahir, depending on who plays, will be needed in the middle overs to pick up wickets.

Rohit Sharma, Mahela Jayawardene, Mumbai Indians, RPS, IPL 2017
Mahale Jayawardene and Rohit SharmaIANS

Injury returns a worry for MI

They are one of the most settled teams in the IPL, with most players knowing their jobs pretty well.

The only worry for the Mumbai Indians, who have a new coach in Mahela Jayawardene, with the Sri Lankan replacing Ricky Ponting, going into their opening match, and indeed the entire IPL 2017 season, is how the likes of Rohit Sharma, Mitchell McClenaghan and Lasith Malinga, who is expected to join the MI squad later this week, will cope, considering they are returning from injuries.

As long as they don't have too many injury problems, the Mumbai Indians should be right up there with the rest.

MI did not make that big, statement buy at the auctions, and the ones that they did sign, could take a while before coming in. There's Karn Sharma, who might have to bide his time, with Krunal Pandya likely to get a game ahead of the leg-spinner, while Mitchell Johnson could also miss this game, considering the Mumbai Indians are likely to go with the New Zealand pairing of Mitchell McClenaghan and Tim Southee.

Confirmed playing XI:

RPS: Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Steve Smith (C), Manoj Tiwary, MS Dhoni, Ben Stokes, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Adam Zampa, Imran Tahir, Ashok Dinda.


Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Parthiv Patel, Ambati Rayudu, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard, Nitish Rana, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah.