Chennai, April 8: After a couple of weeks during which the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 was haunted by cases of COVID-19, the focus will now shift to action on the field.
The first-up we have a high-voltage contest between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Friday (April 9).
The presence of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will the battle a box-office hit. Apart from those two, the big-hitters on both sides will ensure that necessary fireworks will be there even if fans are absent from the stands thanks to the pandemic.
The virus has cast its shadow on the league in the build-up stage with some positive cases among both players and support staff. But with a strict bio-bubble in place for the games, the BCCI would be hoping for a smooth run just like the previous edition in the UAE.
Mumbai Indians will be favourites going into the match. Apart from Rohit, they have Quinton de Kock Ishan Kishan, Surya Kumar Yadav, the indomitable Pandya brothers (Hardik and Krunal) and Kieron Pollard will be on their side.
Trent Boult, with his swing, and Rahul Chahar, with his googlies, will also test the batsmen along with strike bowler Jasprit Bumrah.
Rohit's opposite number is the national captain, who is ready to open but the squad composition of RCB doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. Glenn Maxwell has been picked for a massive price and New Zealand's Kyle Jamieson has been made an overnight multi-millionaire by the franchise despite him being untested on Indian pitches.
Devdutt Padikkal will be in his second season and Yuzvendra Chahal seems to have lost his mojo. Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini do not inspire the highest confidence in in white ball cricket despite their gutsy performances in Australia early this year.
So, fasten your seat belt and grab a bag of popcorn to enjoy a thrill-a-second clash between MI and RCB!
The Chepauk pitch often plays slow and spinners might come into play here.