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IPL 2018 will get underway with defending champions, Mumbai Indians, taking on the Chennai Super Kings. CSK is returning to the IPL after a hiatus of 2 years and the excitement among its fans is tremendous. Mumbai Indians and CSK have been two of the strongest teams in IPL history. They also have two of the most rabid fan bases in the league. It will be very interesting to see which team is able to get off to a better start and lay down a marker early in the tournament.
Being able to play with a stable core of players year after year is a huge advantage in the IPL. The Mumbai Indians have once again been able to keep most of their players together and made some excellent additions as well.
The strength of this team is in the top-class Indian talent available to them. Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya are certainties in every game provided they remain fit. Rohit Sharma is one of the most dangerous six hitters in world cricket and has absolutely dominated the IPL in the past.
Bumrah is rated as the best death overs bowler in the world and made his name through consistent IPL performances. Hardik Pandya is again, someone who can bowl four overs consistently, attack from the first ball, and put in some incredible fielding performances as well.
Next come the four overseas players. We would love to see Mumbai start off with Evin Lewis at the top, JP Duminy in the middle, Ben Cutting, and Pat Cummins as the two overseas quicks. In reality, though, Mumbai is likely to continue playing with Kieron Pollard even though he is woefully inconsistent and just had a terrible PSL.
Mustafizur Rahman is also another overseas player that could get a look-in ahead of one of the other players.
The pitch in Mumbai is usually one of the best to bat on in the entire tournament. Last year. Though, perhaps it started to slow up and bring in the spinners a lot more. We think it will start off as a batting belter and that should reflect in the team composition.
The four remaining players in the Mumbai Indians playing eleven are going to be local Indian players. Krunal Pandya had a breakout season last year and was sensational. Suryakumar Yadav has also played a few very useful cameos for Mumbai. We think that Ishan Kishan and Rahul Chahar will be given the opportunity to stake their places in the team to begin with.
A strong Mumbai team is going to come at CSK hard and make it tough to beat them. They have most areas covered and there are no real weaknesses to talk off. Perhaps the lack of a specialist spinner is something that could hurt them.
Punters should remember that Mumbai Indians has traditionally been one of the slowest starting teams in the IPL and can take a while to hit its stride.
Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma, SA Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mayank Markande, Krunal Pandya, MJ Mcclenaghan, JJ Bumrah, Mustafizur Rahman.
Chennai Super Kings have fans across the world and they are all waiting excitedly for their return to the IPL. That motivation to keep the fan-connect may have prompted CSK to keep as many players together from their original squad as possible.
MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Murali Vijay, and Faf du Plessis have all played for CSK for a long time and will be familiar with what is expected of them. None of them, is, however, young or in the prime of their career.
Dhoni is the not the same finisher that he once was, Suresh Rain is seeking to make a comeback into the Indian team, Ravindra Jadeja finds himself no longer a part of the limited overs setup, Murali Vijay is a test match specialist, and even du Plessis is not someone whom teams fear in T20 cricket.
Dwayne Bravo had an excellent Big Bash season but his batting is also nowhere near the same as it used to be.
There is a genuine worry that CSK has picked a team that is past its prime driven by nostalgia.
All of the players, though, have plenty of motivation to do well. Some want to play for India, others want to keep their places in the franchise, and MS Dhoni’s leadership can always be counted on to bring something special to the table.
Thankfully, there are some excellent new additions to this franchise. Shane Watson is another IPL legend and is in excellent form. He too dominated bowlers in the BBL and the PSL this season. Imran Tahir is one of the best spinners going around in T20 cricket, Mark Wood brings some genuine pace to the table, and Lungi Ngidi is waiting in the wings as well.
The trio of Kedar Jadhav, Harbhajan Singh, and Shardul Thakur ensure that CSK will have plenty of quality Indian players to call upon in this tournament.
T20 is often called a young man’s game but the brains behind CSK do not seem to buy into this theory. They have gone for experience and familiarity to the do the job. CSK will have to hope that Shane Watson and Suresh Raina really get going against the Mumbai attack otherwise we think they could struggle to get the runs necessary to compete.
CSK does not have the power hitters that some of the other teams do and their bowling also lacks an established death bowler.
We know that CSK has made it a habit to outperform expectations in the IPL so far but we worry their return to the IPL may not go as smoothly as their legion of fans expects.
Ambati Rayudu, SR Watson, SK Raina, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, M Wood, Deepak Chahar.
Traditionally, the team winning the toss has chosen to field first.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
Clear weather has been forecast for the opening match. We are also certain that the pitch will be very good for batting. It will come on to the bat nicely and allow batsmen to hit through the line. We expect scores to be around the 170 mark to be competitive. Anything lesser may not be enough for the teams to defend.
Mumbai Indians has won its last three matches against the Chennai Super Kings, although they did the two before that. This match, being played at home, will be a tough test for both teams as they try and get into the groove for the tournament.
We are, however, confident that the Mumbai Indians will be able to do the job and get over the line.
Back Mumbai Indians to win.
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