5 players to watch out for in IPL 2021 opening fixture between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore

Although, Mumbai Indians are the favourites going into this game, can Virat Kohli & Co. turn the fortunes in favour of RCB.

Vivek KrishnanAuthor

Updated - 08 April 2021 11:51 PM

IPL

Not even 24 hours left before the much awaited Indian Premier League (IPL) begins. Defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opening game of the IPL 2021, on April 9. This match will be played at the Chepauk in Chennai.

Mumbai have won eight of their last 10 meetings with Bangalore. Mumbai, though, have lost all of their last eight season-openers in the IPL. Given MI's slow start history, RCB will surely fancy their chances to get on the board.

The defending champions are already being billed as the prime title contenders for the sixth time. Given their balance, depth and confidence, it would take a herculean effort by other teams to stop Mumbai from winning for the third time in a row.

It has been 13 years and the RCB unit is yet to taste success in the IPL. They have managed to make to the finals on three occasions, but have faltered at the very last stage. After another failure in 2020, the Virat Kohli-led side would be keen to start their 2021 campaign on a positive note. They would be delighted to have Devdutt Padikkal back. The youngster has recovered from COVID-19 infection and has rejoined the RCB camp.

As we look ahead to a thrilling contest, let us also throw light on those five cricketers who could have a major impact on the game.

1. Jasprit Bumrah

Arguably, Jasprit Bumrah is one of the best bowlers in the shortest version of the game. He is going to be the trump card for MI. The Mumbai pacer has taken 19 wickets against RCB in 15 outings. His ability to operate with both new and old ball makes him an asset. Remember, he can be called upon to give breakthroughs in the powerplay as well as the death overs.

2. Rohit Sharma

The Mumbai skipper usually starts slowly. That said, he has had cricket behind him and finding his IPL groove should take much time at all. Rohit has scored almost 500 runs against RCB in 18 innings. Drop him at your peril!

3. Yuzvendra Chahal

Much depends on how this leggie goes. He has been the go-to-man for skipper Kohli with the ball. Although he has been a bit out of form lately, owing to which he was benched too, expect him to show up like a champion spinner come the IPL. 19 wickets in 13 games against Mumbai is a serious stat.

4. Kieron Pollard

The big man from the Caribbean has always been a thorn in the flesh of the RCB. He loves the big stage and that is when he delivers big time. The Trinidadian has scored the most runs (539) by any Mumbai batsman. Furthermore, an average of over 35 is staggering, with 3 fifties. Keep in mind, he is a brilliant fielder too, who can win games on the field as well.

5. AB de Villiers

Much of RCB's fortune on Friday will depend on how this genius from South Africa goes. ABD has amassed 630 runs against Mumbai at an impressive average of 53. He has also remained not-out on five occasions. He is likely to bat no.4 and if he can get going, MI will be chasing leather.

Picture Credit: BCCI/IPL

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