Preview Match 1: Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings
Defending Champions Mumbai Indians and two-time winners Chennai Super Kings will feature in the season opening clash of VIVO IPL 2018. A MI-CSK clash is a fitting way to begin the season, for these are the two-most successful teams in the IPL.
Mumbai Indians have the core of the team that won the title in 2017 available to them this season too, while Chennai Super Kings, who return to the competition after a two-year absence, will sport a new-look side, though a few popular players – who helped establish the CSK brand – will continue to don the yellow jersey.
Mumbai Indians have been perennial poor starters; they have now lost their last five season opening fixtures. Rohit Sharma and company will be keen to set that record right when they take the field on the opening night of the 2018 season.
7 April 2018, 2000Hrs (IST)
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
While Rohit Sharma will be central to Mumbai Indians’ batting plans, keep an eye out for two exciting left-handers who will most likely open the batting for MI. Evin Lewis, in his first stint in the IPL, and Ishan Kishan , are among the most daring young batsmen of this generation, and can destroy bowling attacks single-handedly. Both batsmen have been in good form too; Lewis was West Indies’ highest run-getter in the World Cup Qualifiers held recently, while Ishan Kishan has been consistently scoring runs in domestic cricket in the last couple of months.
Suresh Raina, back in the Chennai Super Kings yellow jersey, will be at the centre of the team’s batting plans. The left-hander is the highest run-getter in T20 cricket among Indian batsmen, and has timed his return to form perfectly; after a lean run in first-class cricket, Raina began hitting the ball well in the domestic T20 competition and has since returned to the Indian T20 side too. Among others, Faf du Plessis, who will most likely open the batting, and captain MS Dhoni, who according to coach Stephen Fleming ‘will play a more prominent role as batsman’ are the ones to keep a close watch on.
Mustafizur Rahman and Jasprit Bumrah (both MI), and Dwayne Bravo (CSK) are the ones likely to cause big-scale damage with the ball. It will be interesting to see how MI utilise the eight overs of Mustafizur and Bumrah, especially given both bowlers have established reputations as outstanding death overs bowlers. CSK will pin their hopes on Bravo, who is the highest wicket-taker in T20 cricket, to keep the opposition on a tight leash – particularly in the death overs.
Team Head to Head
Overall: Matches – 22, Mumbai Indians won – 12, Chennai Super Kings won – 10
At the Wankhede Stadium: Matches – 7, Mumbai Indians won – 5, Chennai Super Kings won – 2
MI have held dominated CSK in recent times; MI have prevailed in the last three matches against CSK.
MS Dhoni is the most-experienced captain in T20 cricket; he has been captain in a total of 239 T20 matches.
Rohit Sharma & MS Dhoni have played the same number of matches in the IPL – 159.
Murali Vijay returns to the Chennai Super Kings dressing room after four years. Vijay represented the Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2014, was part of the Kings XI Punjab setup in the following two years and missed last season because of injury. In his five years with CSK, he scored a total of 1600 runs – which included 2 centuries - in 64 matches.
Mumbai Indians will enjoy a couple of days off before they play their first away match of the season; the defending champions will travel to Hyderabad where they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 12. Chennai Super Kings meanwhile begin their home campaign with a match against the Kolkata Knight Riders on April 10.