IPL 2021: MI have a big advantage over RCB in opener

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on April 8, 2021
Battle on the cards as giants clash in the IPL opener. — Twitter

RCB’s young pacers Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini need to show a great deal of improvement

A blue riband match featuring two marquee names in Indian cricket, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli helming their respective teams. While Kohli is India’s most successful captain in international cricket, he doesn’t have an IPL title to his credit, nor an ICC tournament. Rohit has both.

In fact, he has 5 IPL titles to his name, including in the previous season. This has frequently provoked debate whether India should opt for dual captaincy, with Rohit leading in white ball cricket and Virat in the longest format. Doubtless, this will be a recurring theme in this tournament.

Whereas the opening match is concerned, MI appear to have a fairly big advantage if past record is anything to go. Of 29 matches between the two teams, the current champions have won 19 to RCB’s 10. The skew is wide, and it will take some effort from Virat and his team to correct the imbalance somewhat.

MI look formidable for two reasons. Firstly, their core group made up of Indian and overseas players hasn’t changed much. Two, almost everybody in the squad has been in terrific form in recent months.

The top order reads Rohit, Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan, Surya Kumar Yadav, followed by Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya. That’s a formidable line up, aggressive at the start and explosive at the finish. Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah are the linchpins of the bowling, and they are known to be penetrative as well as parsimonious.

In RCB’s case, there is over-dependence on Virat and AB de Villiers, though last season rookie Devdutt Padikkal showed a lot of class and maturity as an opener. Key to RCB’s fortunes are how new recruits Glenn Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson, fare. Both are magnificent strikers of the ball. But can they break the shackles that MI’s bowlers generally impose on batsmen? That’s the question on ever RCB fan’s mind now.

RCB’s young pacers Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini also have to show a great deal of improvement. In the previous season, they leaked a lot of runs in the death overs which often left the team chasing massive scores or being unable to defend even good totals.

The one area where RCB do seem to have an advantage is in spin bowling, with Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar perhaps a nudge ahead of Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya. The match is being played at Chepauk which generally helps slow bowlers. But for the spinners to be effective, RCB must pick up a couple of wickets in the powerplay.

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