Mumbai Indians have always been a strong team in the IPL, and the Rohit Sharma-led team will be keen to start their campaign on a winning note as they take on Rising Pune Supergiant at the MCA Stadium in Pune. The home team were a major disappointment last season, finishing seventh, but with a new captain in the form of Steve Smith for IPL 2017, they will look for a better performance in the 10th edition.
It is the Maharashtra derby too, so there is much more than the points in the offing. This match is going to be interesting for various other reasons, and more importantly, this is the first match MS Dhoni will be playing as non-captain. The Jharkhand man has captained Chennai Super Kings and Rising Pune Supergiant in the past.
While this gives him a huge opportunity to excel and play fearless cricket, Smith will be looking for some special inputs from the former skipper, who will play an integral role both with the bat and behind the stumps.
The RPS have strengthened their squad, buying in some quality players in the IPL 2017 auction. Ben Stokes was the biggest name in the draw and the RPS spent Rs 14.5 crore in signing the all-rounder. After having put so much money in one basket, Stokes will be under pressure to deliver with both the bat and ball.
The team have faced some injury problems ahead of IPL 2017. R Ashwin and Mitchell Marsh have been ruled out of the competition, but the RPS have done a great job signing Imran Tahir, who could prove to be their trump card.
With bowlers like Stokes and Tahir being their best bet, their bowling does not look too impressive, but they have a solid batting line-up. Ajinkya Rahane, Dhoni, Faf Du Plessis and Smith will have to do the bulk of the scoring this season, and with the Australian in great form, he will need to continue that for RPS as well. They will be keen to use Stokes as the finisher.
However, if we look at Mumbai Indians squad, they look a well-balanced unit. They have quality batsmen, bowlers and also good all-rounders for their first game. Mumbai Indians did get some players in the auction like Mitchell Johnson and Saurabh Tiwary, but they will depend on their big names from last season including Rohit, Tim Southee, Kieron Pollard, Jos Buttler, Harbhajan Singh and others.
Mumbai Indians are quite dependent on the services of Rohit, but with the skipper coming back from injury and having only played two domestic matches in 2017, he might take some time to find his mojo back.
They also have strong Indian batsmen in their squad including Parthiv Patel, Ambati Rayudu, who will need to shoulder responsibility in case Rohit fails to shine. But if Rohit shines with the bat and provides the team with a flying start, lower order hitters like Pollard can join the party and bat out the opposition.
Both teams, obviously, will go for a win, and it could all boil down to which of the two teams' big players deliver on the day to start their IPL 2017 campaign on a winning note.
Where to watch live
RPS vs MI is set to begin at 8pm IST (3.30pm BST). TV and live streaming information is below.
India: TV: Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD, Sony Max. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
UK: TV: Sky Sports 2. Live Streaming: Watch Sky Sports.
USA: TV: Willow TV. Live Streaming: Willow TV Online.
Middle East: TV: OSN Sports Cricket HD. Live Streaming: OSN Play.
South Africa: TV: SuperSport Two. Live Streaming: SuperSport Live Video.
Afghanistan: TV: Lemar TV
Bangladesh: TV: Bong BD.
Hong Kong: TV: Now TV.
International: Live Streaming: Cricketgateway.