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The opening fixture of IPL 2012 features two heavyweight teams – Chennai Super Kings defending champions of the Indian Premier League, lock horns with 2011 Champions League T20 winners Mumbai Indians.
Chennai Super Kings, who won the IPL title for the first time in 2010 and defended it successfully in 2011, will begin the 2012 season eyeing their third consecutive IPL title. Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, will remember the defeat at the hands of CSK in the IPL 2010 final and will want to settle scores on this occasion.
However, it would be prudent to keep an eye on Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni in the Chennai Super Kings line-up, and Sachin Tendulkar, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga in the Mumbai Indians jersey. Raina thrives in the limited overs format and the T20 format gives him the freedom to play his shots from the word go. MS Dhoni is one of the best finishers in the world and though he might look pretty calm and cool outwardly, he is always in the ready-to-explode mode.
Sachin Tendulkar has got the 100th international century off his back and relinquished captaincy of the Mumbai Indians. Watch out for a doubly dangerous Tendulkar this IPL, out to enjoy his game
Pollard was in devastating form in the home series against the Australians recently and will be hoping to make up for an ordinary performance IPL 2011. Lasith Malinga was too hot to handle in IPL 2011 (when he bagged the Purple Cap); watch out as he sends stumps cartwheeling with his razor-sharp yorkers.
Both teams have shared honors evenly in the eight previous meetings between them. In the most recent clash, at the Wankhede Stadium last season, the Mumbai Indians got the better of the Chennai Super Kings by eight runs.
• This fixture will feature the top two run-getters and top two wicket-takers in the history of the IPL. Chennai Super Kings’ Suresh Raina tops the list of run-getters while Mumbai Indians’ Sachin Tendulkar is placed second on the list. On the bowling front, Mumbai Indians have the edge thanks to RP Singh and Lasith Malinga, who are placed first and second respectively on the list of leading wicket-takers in the IPL.
• Chennai Super Kings’ skipper MS Dhoni is the most experienced cricketer when it comes to leading a team in Twenty20 matches. The Jharkhand-lad has been captain in 100 T20 matches.
• In the two outings between the sides at Chennai, the home team has come out on top. What next?
Mumbai Indians will head back home after this fixture to host neighbors Pune Warriors India at the Wankhede Stadium on April 6, while the Chennai Super Kings will be seen in action the following day when they take on the Deccan Chargers at Visakhapatnam.
MI’s new captain all set to kick-start 2012 campaign
By IPL staff
Chennai 02 April 2012
Harbhajan Singh addressed his first media interaction session after taking over the captaincy of the Mumbai Indians from Sachin Tendulkar. The feisty off-spinner, who led the Mumbai franchise to the 2011 CLT20 title, explained Tendulkar’s decision of stepping down from the captain’s post and seemed confident of taking over the responsibility.
“Sachin just wants to take it easy because the last eight-nine months have been difficult for him. He said he wants to take some pressure off himself and gave the responsibility to me. I’ll try my best to fulfil the responsibility and take the team forward,” Harbhajan said.
As the new captain of the team, Harbhajan said he just wants Tendulkar to bat without pressure and be a guiding force to him on the field.
“Despite quitting the captaincy, Sachin remains the biggest factor for us. Sachin can just bat freely and score tons of runs for the Mumbai Indians. In last year’s CLT20 he wasn’t playing but he was there with the team throughout and his inputs were as crucial to the team’s success as of those taking the field. This time it will be much better as he will be there on the field as well.”
Mumbai Indians start their IPL 2012 campaign by taking on the defending champions Chennai Super Kings on their home turf. While acknowledging the strength of his opponents, the Turbanator backed his team to get the better of them.
“Chennai are a very strong team, especially playing at home. But I know for sure if we put our act together, I have the team which can beat any team anywhere. We’ll put up our best performance against the best team. It’s just the first game of the tournament and it’s not how you start but how you finish that matters. I believe in finishing the race rather than starting it.”
Speaking about Mumbai Indians’ team for this season, Harbhajan said he was excited to have a formidable bowling attack at his disposal, the one with three purple cap holders – Lasith Malinga, RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha. He also lavished praise on Munaf Patel and Abu Nechim Ahmed for their contributions.
The new MI captain was particularly happy to finally have a genuine wicketkeeper-batsman in his side in Dinesh Karthik.
“Dinesh is a very promising and cricketer. We had to do without a wicketkeeper in the past seasons, but Ambati Rayudu did fantastically well for us. This time we thought we needed a specialist keeper who could also contribute with runs. And Dinesh, I believe, is India’s second best wicketkeeper-batsman after MS Dhoni.”
True to his jovial demeanour, Bhajji then quipped as he signed off, “I’d have loved to have Dhoni in the team. But we cannot have him, right? So, we went for Dinesh.”