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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Apr 15, 2014
The Indian Premier League (IPL), 2014 kicks off with Mumbai Indians (MI) taking on the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. This is a new season, with new teams in the fray and it isn’t easy to say who will take the first throw of the dice. Both Mumbai and Kolkata have some familiar faces in their side, with some new players coming in. It would depend on how these new recruits blend in and form a unit with the others.
Mumbai have Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu from their previous squad. Zaheer Khan returns after three years and one doesn’t know how well he can be utilised, as he hasn’t been a very influential bowler in the format. But, they would form the core strength of the side and have the responsibility of leading the way.
Mumbai will start their batting with Michael Hussey. In the post Sachin Tendulkar era, Hussey has the responsibility of batting at the top and setting the tone for the innings. Mumbai may have to decide on his opening partner though. In the middle, they will have Rohit, Rayudu and Pollard doing the trick. This is a powerful batting line-up and a lot of the focus would be on them. Corey Anderson, if fit will also come into the side making the middle-order very strong.
The spin bowling duties would be handled by Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha, who was picked at the auction yet again. Malinga will be the main fast-bowler and Zaheer will partner him. If there are other iffy spots, Mumbai may take a few games to decide on them.
Kolkata will bank on Gautam Gambhir and Jacques Kallis, men who have been a part of their franchise in previous seasons. Even Manvinder Bisla would be a crucial addition, as he can keep wickets and play an attacking hand upfront. In Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate, they have some good all-rounders in the middle-order and men, who can change the game. But, there would also be focus on Robin Uthappa, a cricketer who has had a splendid domestic season and is in great form.
Kolkata are spoilt for choices as far as bowling is concerned. Shakib-Al-Hasan should come in as an all-rounder, and this is one aspect where Kolkata have a lot of depth. They have to zero in on a proper bowling combination, one that will support the wily, Sunil Narine. They have to pick between Andre Russell, Pat Cummins, Umesh Yadav and R Vinay Kumar.
It isn’t easy to say what combination the teams would pick considering the new rosters, but as the season progresses, things would be clearer.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Aaditya Tare (wk), Michael Hussey, Sushant Marathe, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Ben Dunk, Josh Hazlewood, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Shreyas Gopal, Jalaj Saxena, CM Gautam, Krishmar Santokie, Marchant de Lange, Jasprit Bumrah, Apoorv Wankhede, Pawan Suyal.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Jacques Kallis, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Manvinder Bisla (wk), Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Kuldeep Yadav, Pat Cummins, Debabrata Das, Piyush Chawla, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Sayan Mondal, R Vinay Kumar, Andre Russell, Veer Pratap Singh.
Time: 20:00 IST | 14:30 GMT
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