Ben Stokes, England, Moeen Ali, RPS, IPL
RPS will want Ben Stokes to make a big impact on his IPL debutIANS

The Rising Pune Supergiant have changed their name and their captain, and they will now hope for a change in fortunes as well, starting with the first match of IPL 2017. Mumbai Indians, the two-time IPL champs are the opponents on Thursday, and after a forgettable campaign last time out, both teams will target a fast start to the new Indian Premier League season.

RPS disappointed last year, finishing second from bottom, with MS Dhoni not quite able to deal with the injuries and the lack of bowling depth in the squad.

As much as they have tried to rectify that problem, injuries and the same bowling issues still plague RPS, with the team now looking at a fresh start under the captaincy of Steve Smith.

How will the new captain go and what else is there to look forward to in this Maharashtra derby? Let's take a look.

Steve Smith the captain:

He has been quite good as captain in Australia colours, scoring runs at will and giving the Aussies a winning edge. While there are still flaws in his captaincy, Smith will, no doubt, look to take the positives from his Australia stint into the IPL.

The batsman will also be helped by the fact that he has some experienced heads around him, if he does need any help. There's Dhoni, Faf Du Plessis and Ajinkya Rahane, so leadership and making the right decisions in crunch situations shouldn't be an issue.

MS Dhoni, RPS, Mumbai Indians, Parthiv Patel, IPL
MS Dhoni will want to let his bat do all the talking when RPS face off against MIIANS

Vintage MS Dhoni:

With no captaincy issues to deal with, maybe this is the IPL that the Dhoni of old comes to the fore. It remains to be seen where the former skipper will bat, but irrespective of when he comes in, Dhoni will expect a lot from himself.

The veteran showed signs of getting back to his absolute best in the limited-overs series against England, and RPS will hope the great man turns on the batting style in IPL 2017.

Ben Stokes, the million dollar man:

With a Rs 14 crore ($2.15 million) price tag going around, Stokes will have plenty to prove. After RPS dug deep, and then deeper, to get Stokes to play for them this season, they will hope that 14 crore price is paid to back in full by Stokes and his all-round ability.

Stokes is one of the best all-rounders in the game at the moment, and what RPS will need from the Englishman is consistency – consistency with the ball and consistency with the bat. Easier said than done in this format of the game, but if there is someone capable of doing the business regularly with bat and ball, it is Stokes.

Rohit Sharma, Jos Buttler, Mumbai Indians, RPS, IPL
Rohit Sharma and Jos ButtlerIANS

Jos Buttler fireworks:

Most of the attention in this match will be on Buttler's England teammate Stokes, and that will suit the Mumbai Indians batsman. Buttler did not have the greatest of debut IPL seasons last year, so he will be under pressure to show he can do the business in these conditions.

Mumbai Indians need Buttler to fire as well, considering the Englishman is the key cog in the middle order. A brilliant half-century against RPS, or maybe even more, will be a nice start.

Rohit Sharma and his comeback:

The Mumbai Indians skipper is set to play some seriously competitive cricket for the first time in several months. While he has played a couple of domestic matches and a few warm-up games as well, Rohit will know his fitness will be properly put to the test during the IPL.

India need Rohit, who had to undergo thigh surgery, firing on all cylinders for the ICC Champions Trophy, so this season's IPL is important, both for the individual and the country.