Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 15 April 2014 - 11:59am IST
Preview: Match 1 - MI v KKR
Defending champions take on Gambhir and co. in season opener
The opening contest of Pepsi IPL 2014 will feature the defending champions Mumbai Indians pitted against the 2012 winners Kolkata Knight Riders.
Always considered to be among the formidable teams in the IPL, the Mumbai Indians never managed to lay their hands on the coveted trophy. However, 2013 turned out to be quite a watershed year for the Mumbai franchise as they won the IPL and followed it up with the Champions League T20 title. The team will be eyeing a hat-trick of titles as they embark on what promises to be a tightly contested IPL 2014.
After winning the IPL title in 2012, the Kolkata Knight Riders couldn’t quite carry that form into the following season as they failed to qualify for the Playoffs and finished a disappointing seventh in the (formerly) nine-team league. The Kolkata Knight Riders, like most other teams, have undergone a transformation, and will be hoping the influx of fresh faces will bring lots of positive energy, good luck and an upswing to the team’s fortunes.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 8 pm IST
Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
In the grand stage that is the IPL – which will see the best players from across the world pitted against each other – expect the match-winners to stamp their authority.
Early on in the tournament, it is important that the captains – especially among the batsmen – set the ball rolling. And hence, a lot will ride on the shoulders of Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir.
The other players capable of playing whirlwind match-changing knocks are Michael Hussey, Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson of MI, and Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate of KKR.
Among the bowlers, one does not need to look beyond Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine. Both bowlers are unorthodox in their style of delivery, yet accurate to the dot, and can come up with sterling match-winning spells on a consistent basis.
Previous contests between the Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders have been fairly lopsided in favour of the former; MI have won 10 of their 12 matches against KKR – including both encounters last season.
Not only is the match result lopsided in favour of MI in their matches against KKR, even the coin toss has gone in favour of the defending champions. MI captains have won the toss in 9 of the 12 contests against KKR.
Mumbai Indians have a lot of riches in their line-up; their skipper Rohit Sharma is the second-highest run-getter in the IPL. Lasith Malinga is the leading wicket-taker and Pragyan Ojha is the fourth-highest wicket-taker in the competition. In their skipper, Gautam Gambhir, KKR have the fourth-highest run-getter in the competition.
Though he has been part of the KKR line-up for only the last two seasons, Sunil Narine is comfortably the team’s most successful bowler; the unorthodox spinner from the Caribbean has 46 wickets from 31 matches, followed by Jacques Kallis with 38 scalps.
Both teams will be seen in action next on April 19. While the Mumbai Indians will clash with the Royal Challengers Bangalore at 4pm IST, the Kolkata Knight Riders will take on the Delhi Daredevils in the late evening fixture the same day.