Mumbai Indians were two time champions league winners and one time IPL champions, owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani and they never backed down to buy top order player whether Sachin or Malinga or pollard.
With Ricky Ponting, Shane Bond and Jonty Rhodes forming the core players, it has equally good coaches and mentors to aid the side’s quest for the IPL.
With a host of highly dependable Indian talent — Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan, Rayudu, Parthiv and Ojha among others, the team has all proven T20 performers.
But with one lone bowler to depend in Lasith Malinga, and an unreliable Pollard to bat, the team requires more arsenal to strengthen itself against the onslaught of the home team Kolkata Knight Riders who are riding high on the back of their last year’s performance and glory, besides their mascot in actor Shahrukh Khan.
The Australian duo of Finch and Hazelwood are terrific buys for the Mumbai Indians bringing into focus their exploits in the World Cup.
Its captain Rohit Sharma is clear about the strategy. “We have to start well whether we bat or bowl first. It is a very important game. The first game of the season is crucial. It is important that you start well, take that momentum into the next game and perform to your best. A winning momentum gives you lot of confidence and helps you build on your strengths,” he reveals.
The Kolkata Knight Riders boast of 2 championship wins under the leadership of the charismatic Gautam Gambhir including winning the last year trophy. With the experienced players likes of Gambhir, Mahmood, Hogg, Sakib and Tendo in their ranks, KKR possess perhaps the most vastly experienced side amongst all the IPL teams out there. Adding to this the unpredictable Yusuf Pathan who can single handedly destroy any attack on his day and the wily opener Robin Uthappa, the team from Kolkata has all match winners.
Spin being their key strategy with Narine, Hogg, Yadav and Cariappa in the lineup, the KKR not only possess slow bowlers but bowlers who are highly deceptive. This is what makes them an exciting bowling unit to watch out for as teams may struggle picking up the lengths when pit against KKR and a fanatic Eden Gardens crowd.
“I believe, even if Sunil bowls a straight ball, he has always been an asset for us and will always be one. That is the confidence we have. Hopefully he can continue the success he has achieved for KKR,” says KKR Captain Gautam Gambhir.
Despite experience, consistent inconsistency is their weakness. From the Ganguly era to the Gambhir era, KKR have struggled to find consistent and quality batsmen but Gambhir, Pathan, Uthappa and Russel are never the most consistent guys going around and hence one may expect collapses far too often. Sakib Al Hasan, their all round great will just feature in two games including this and it should help them.
Worth watching tonight is the contest between Rohit Sharma and Sunil Narine. The Trinidadian mystery spinner has so far dismissed the MI skipper thrice in six matches.
Previous meetings between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians indicate the latter have generally dominated those contests. MI have won 10 out of their 14 clashes with KKR. Last year, KKR got the better of MI on two occasions – firstly by 41 runs at Abu Dhabi and subsequently by 6 wickets in Cuttack.
Where to Watch Live
The opening match 1 of IPL 2015 will start at 8 pm IST (3.30 pm BST, 10.30 am ET) provided weather permits and the live coverage is available in five languages in India on Sony Six (English), Sony Max (Hindi),Sony Kix (Tamil and Telugu) and Sony Aath (Bengali). For online live streaming, IPL fans can visit HotStar.
Those in the UK can watch it on Sky Sports, while the opening match will be available online at Sky Go and Watch Sky Sports. Viewers in the Gulf region or the Middle East can catch all the matches of IPL live onOSN TV channel, while those who want to watch the livestreaming can acces the OSN website at OSN Play.
Cricket fans in the US can watch the opener live on ESPN or ESPN Cricket and those in Canada can watch the KKR vs Mumbai Indians match 1 on Sportsnet, while the live streaming is available at Sportsnet World.
The KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir will be aware of his poor record against the Mumbai Indians; the left-hander has an aggregate of 79 runs (with a best of 27) and an average of 9.89 in 8 outings for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
In 9 of their 14 matches against MI so far, KKR have had opening partnerships not exceeding 10 runs.
With 6 wins in 7 IPL matches at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Mumbai Indians have the best record among all the visiting teams.
KKR’s Chinaman bowler Brad Hogg will be 44 years and 61 days old today and if he sent on to the field, he will be the oldest cricketer to play in the IPL.
Prediction: Defending champions KKR will be expected to do better unless Mumbai Indians fight it out on the very first day as their captain believes in.