The 1st match of the IPL 2021 will see Mumbai Indians (MI) take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the M Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on April 9, 2021. The match will be a night affair beginning from 7.30 PM IST.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, none of the participating franchises will play a match at their home grounds and all matches will be played at neutral venues.
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The IPL 2021 will be played across six cities- Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bengaluru. Ahmedabad will also host the playoffs and the final of the IPL 2021 on May 30.
Given that it is the first match of the much anticipated IPL 2021 edition, TEAM COC presents to you the Predicted Playing XIs for the MI v RCB match.
MUMBAI INDIANS (MI)
The Mumbai Indians are the defending and five-time champions and will be looking to make a hat-trick of IPL title wins. They had a brilliant outing in the IPL 2021 auction, picking players to fill some gaps left by the retirement of Lasith Malinga and them having to release some players.
They bought the likes of Adam Milne, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Marco Jansen, and Arjun Tendulkar amongst others to complete their already intimidating squad.
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The MI has the advantage of having a fixed core of players which include captain Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Jasprit Bumrah, and the Pandya brothers- Krunal and Hardik. These players basically have permanent spots in the playing XI and one might add Quinton de Kock into the mix as well.
The franchise has been so consistent only because of this amazing core group of players and had to only add or remove other players to complement them. Rahul Chahar, the leg-spinner will come in handy, given the match against RCB will be played at Chennai, a paradise for spinners.
In all, MI has a potent squad with Jasprit Bumrah getting help from the likes of Adam Milne, Nathan Coulter-Nile, and Trent Boult in the fast bowling department. MI has been smart in having backups for their main players with Jimmy Neesham being a backup for Kieron Pollard and Piyush Chawla being a backup for Rahul Chahar.
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They do lack a quality finger spinner and an Indian backup bowler for Jasprit Bumrah. However, they have atleast six match-winners at their disposal, and keeping them quiet will be a huge task for the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team.
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE (RCB)
The RCB team had a brilliant outing in IPL 2020, reaching the playoffs after a long time and finally fixing the majority of their problems when it came to their squad. They went one better in the IPL 2021 auction and spent big in plugging holes in the middle order, all-rounders, and fast bowling department.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) splurged on Glenn Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson paying Rs 14.25 Cr and Rs 15 Cr respectively for their services.
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RCB needed a cushion in form of a big-hitting finisher to remove pressure from AB de Villiers, which is where Glenn Maxwell comes in and the inclusion of Kyle Jamieson lengthens their batting lineup as well, all the while providing them with a bowler who hits the high 140 kph with ease.
The Virat Kohli-led side also invested in quality wicketkeeping options- both Indian and foreign as well to ease pressure on AB de Villiers. Mohammed Azharuddeen and Finn Allen fill those roles. They also have a terrific batting lineup reading Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, Washington Sundar to boot for.
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Devdutt Padikkal might not be available for the opening encounter as he just joined the training sessions after recovering from COVID-19 recently.
Even in the fast bowling department Navdeep Saini and Mohammed Siraj will have help from Kane Richardson and Dan Christian. Yuzvendra Chahal will lead the spin attack with Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed, and Maxwell, giving Kohli all the options he needs.
However, they do have a problem in the lower-middle order with no big Indian batting option, with Sachin Baby and Rajat Patidar as contenders to fill that role.
However, RCB has been accused of not being able to play spin well, which was evident from their performance in the second half of IPL 2020 when the pitches got slower and spin became a potent weapon.
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Not only that the last time they played an opening match at Chennai was in IPL 2019 and they were bowled out for 70 with CSK spinners running riot.
If Virat Kohli and co. are able to find a solution to these problems, they could get off to a good start, even against the mighty Mumbai Indians in the first match of IPL 2021.
MI COC Predicted Playing XI:
Rohit Sharma (C), Chris Lynn, Ishan Kishan (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
RCB COC Predicted Playing XI:
Virat Kohli (C), Mohammed Azharuddeen (WK), Rajat Patidar, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, Kyle Jamieson, Washington Sundar, Kane Richardson, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal