The first match of the tournament will take place in Mumbai on April 7.
The wait is finally over as the highly-awaited Indian Premier League kicks off on April 7 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai with the defending champions Mumbai Indians taking on the Chennai Super Kings, who are making a comeback to the competition after serving a two-year ban.
Both the sides look extremely strong on paper and will be raring to go by getting off to the perfect start. The two teams have a fair bit of history, having featured in three IPL finals so far. Chennai Super Kings won their first title by beating the Mumbai Indians in the 2010 final.
But Mumbai Indians won the subsequent two finals that the two teams played. They surpassed Chennai Super Kings as the most successful team in IPL history by winning the title in 2017. The match will be held at the Wankhede Stadium, the home ground of the Mumbai Indians and the place where MS Dhoni registered his name in cricketing yore by hitting a six over long-on and becoming the first Indian captain to win the World Cup since Kapil Dev.
The Mumbai Indians, of course, will have a lot of pressure on them this season, having won the title last year for the third time. Chennai, on the other hand, will be looking to get back to winning ways and begin from where they left off in 2015.
Prior to the mega-auctions which were held in Bengaluru on January 27 and 28, Mumbai retained Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Hardik Pandya and went on use the right-to-match card for Krunal Pandya and Kieron Pollard during the auction. Ishan Kishan was the most expensive buy for Mumbai at Rs. 6.2 crore. They also purchased Evin Lewis, Mustafizur Rahman, and Pat Cummins, thus adding balance to their squad.
Chennai, on the other hand, retained MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, and Suresh Raina and used the right-to-match card for Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis. They have a lot of experience in their side as they purchased Shane Watson, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Vijay, and Ambati Rayudu. They have a lot of firepower in their pace bowling department with Lungi Ndidi and Mark Wood in their ranks.
If Mumbai Indians bat first
Predicted score: 180+
The Wankhede pitch is usually a batting paradise, with nothing in it for the bowlers. With Evin Lewis and Ishan Kishan likely to open the batting, we could see a lot of runs scored in the powerplay. If Lewis gets going, he could take the game away from the opposition.
Kishan will look to play second fiddle and provide the anchor to the innings. Mumbai’s middle-order looks extremely strong too with Rohit Sharma, the Pandya brothers, and Kieron Pollard. With an extremely strong bowling line-up, a score of above 180 would be ideal for the defending champions.
If Chennai Super Kings bat first
Predicted score: 160+
The Chennai Super Kings have a lot of experience in their squad but they do not have too many big hitters. They will be banking on Suresh Raina to go big right from the time he comes out to bat. Shane Watson and Murali Vijay are likely to open the batting, with Raina coming in at number 3 and MS Dhoni slated to come in at number 4.
Kedar Jadhav will play the role of the finisher in the side. With this batting line-up, they could get around 160-170 runs on the board if they bat first. With a strong bowling line-up, this could be an ideal score for them.
The Mumbai Indians are usually slow starters, however, this time around, they will look to get off to a winning start against a side they have performed reasonably well against in the past, defeating them in two finals as well. With a stronger batting line-up, the defending champions would most likely come out on top in the season opener.