Two teams that have shown the promise but failed to deliver on big occasions come face to face when Mumbai and Bangalore clash in their opening match of the Indian Premier League in Bangalore on Thursday.
Mumbai are the big-spending side and have the World T20 Trophy to show for all the money shelled out on acquiring star players. Besides, Mumbai have also been runners-up once and semifinalists twice in the previous Indian T20 League seasons. With Ricky Ponting as captain this time, Mumbai would be hoping to lay their hands on the IPL trophy for the first time.
In the batting department, Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma would be looking to continue from where they left in the previous Indian T20 League where they amassed 333 and 433 runs respectively. Senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar would open with either Dwayne Smith or James Franklin, both of whom can contribute to the team with their bowling as well. Also Ponting, who has had a good outing in Australia's Big Bash and Shield Cricket tournaments since retiring from Test cricket, would be an asset at number three. Dinesh Karthik would give solidity to the middle-order.
Boasting of three prolific wicket-takers in the history of the tournament so far – Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ojha and Munaf Patel – Mumbai look a well-balanced side. However Malinga will miss the tournament opener as he is nursing a sore back. In his absence the responsibility will be on the Indian contingent to deliver the goods.
However, spinners were a tad disappointing for them in IPL-5 with Harbhajan Singh hardly making any impact. He scalped six wickets in 17 matches, while Ojha claimed nine wickets in as many matches.
Mumbai, in fact, are rocked by a problem of plenty as only four international cricketers are allowed to play in a match. There is lot to choose from the international basket given the presence of 'million dollar buy' Glen Maxwell, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard, Jacob Oram and James Franklin.
Bangalore, on the other hand, will take the field with the young and feisty Virat Kohli leading the team. Known for being diffident in the initial stages of the IPL, Bangalore have in their arsenal, swashbuckling characters like Chris Gayle, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers, who can turn the game on its head in a jiffy. AB de Villiers though will miss the initial couple of matches as he is contracted to play for his home based franchise, Titans in the South African domestic T20 tournament. Kohli is not too far behind having been Bangalore's leading run-getter (1639), but their over-dependence on Gayle has been a nightmare for the team. The West Indian, with 1341 runs, has won countless games single-handedly, but still has to come up good in big matches.
Bangalore's main worry is their bowling with Zaheer Khan making a comeback from a calf injury which he sustained in a Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat last year. He has been ruled out of the opening match with Kohli stating that the lead Indian pacer is not entirely fit. Despite his absence, Bangalore have a big roster of pacers in their team sheet. Caribbean speedster Ravi Rampaul along with senior pros like Muttiah Muralitharan, Daniel Vettori and Murali Karthik, are expected to bolster the attack.
Mumbai (From): Abu Nechim, Aditya Tare, Aiden Blizzard, Ambati Rayudu, Amitoze Singh, Dwayne Smith, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik(w), Harbhajan Singh, Jalaj Saxena, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Rishi Dhawan, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Munaf Patel, Pawan Suyal, Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Suryakumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ricky Ponting(c), Phillip Hughes, Glenn Maxwell, Jacob Oram, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Akshar Patel
Bangalore (From): Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Andrew McDonald, Arun Karthik(w), Cheteshwar Pujara, Chris Gayle, Daniel Vettori, Harshal Patel, KP Appanna, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Muttiah Muralitharan, Prasanth Parameswaran, Vinay Kumar, Sandeep Warrier, Saurabh Tiwary, Sunny Sohal, Syed Mohammad Jamaluddin, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Vijay Zol, Virat Kohli(c), Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Daniel Christian, Moises Henriques, Ravi Rampaul, Pankaj Singh, Jaidev Unadkat, Christopher Barnwell, Murali Kartik, AB de Villiers