IPL 6 campaign begins with big bang
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Mumbai Indians, 8 pm
M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
The IPL is back and Royal Challengers Bangalore will get no loose delivery to limber up, we face the formidable Mumbai Indians first up at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
MI have an enviable statistic to back them, their 3-0 record against RCB at Bangalore. But new skipper Virat Kohli might have an idea of how to stop that record there. He has at his disposal as many as 15 bowling options and a T20 veteran and Indian bowler in Murali Kartik.
Zaheer Khan is likely to miss out the game which will leave RP Singh to spearhead the attack with Vinay Kumar, Pankaj Singh and possibly Ravi Rampaul to make up the rest of the pace front. Muttiah Muralitharan will be a certainty and he will find support from the other Murali.
Mumbai’s batting is awe inspiring but is low on form. Ricky Ponting successfully opened for the Hobart Hurricanes in the 2012-13 Big Bash League, Dinesh Karthik was in blazing form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy and Ambati Rayudu played a few good knocks but no other MI batsman has had shown consistent good form in the lead up to the tournament.
Bangalore on the other hand have Tillakaratne Dilshan coming off a 3 ODI series where he hit 2 hundreds. Chris Gayle has a hundred in his last game, Kohli one in his last series and Mayank Agarwal hit a hundred in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy as well. AB de Villiers will miss the game due to his domestic cricket commitments in South Africa but he’s been in terrific form too.
Daniel Christian might just edge out Ravi Rampaul for the fourth overseas slot. He was crucial in Brisbane Heat’s BBL winning run and his batting gives him more weight.
But the biggest reason yet in RCB’s favour will be the absence of Lasith Malinga who has been ruled out with a back injury. A devastating bowler with his slinging action in T20, Malinga is the man MI’s attack revolves around. Munaf Patel offers discipline and tight lines but he is coming off a long layoff and with very little top flight cricket in a long time. Mitchell Johnson can be intimidating to face but he has a tendency to be wildly inconsistent. MI’s spin attack too is not in the best of form with Harbhajan Singh being dropped from the Indian side and Pragyan Ojha’s below par show in his two games against Australia.
Glenn Maxwell is their big buy of the season, though not impressive in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, he was good with the bat in the LOIs Australia played against Sri Lanka.
Still, beating such a strong team early in the tournament will be amazing for RCB, a huge motivator ahead of a grueling 2 month campaign.
RCB had all but sealed the game against MI last time, reducing them to 51/5 in a chase of 171 before Rayudu and Kieron Pollard rebuilt successfully with an unbeaten 122 run partnership for the 6th wicket. With the arsenal at his services this time, if Kohli finds himself in that situation again, make no mistake, he will go for the kill.