Bangalore vs Mumbai: What can we expect from Kohli and Rohit?

Match eight of the 2019 Indian T20 League sees Bangalore meet Mumbai at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday.

Both teams lost their opening matches of the season, and need wins to get their campaigns going.

Ahead of this exciting clash, here’s a look at some hot talking points:

Kohli vs Rohit

India captain and vice-captain. In the red and black corner, Virat Kohli. A global superstar in every sense of the word, on track to break a few more international batting record. But a man who in 11 years has yet to get his hands on an IPL trophy. (PREVIEW: Can Rohit’s men topple Kohli and Co ?)

In the blue corner, Rohit Sharma. An opener par excellence and the holder of three double-centuries in ODI cricket. He also has three IPL titles to his name, which is where Rohit holds the bragging rights when it comes to this competition. (VIDEO: Kohli versus Rohit in Bangalore-Mumbai firecracker)

In the IPL, Rohit has proved the better captain. Both Bangalore and Mumbai depend heavily on their captains, who this year have decided to open the innings.

Smarting from losses, which one of Kohli and Rohit will dictate terms on Thursday?

Can Bangalore’s batting stand up?

Since Bangalore released Chris Gayle two seasons ago, their batting has become over reliant on Kohli and AB de Villiers. Quinton de Kock is a very solid player for South Africa, but in the IPL he has not had the success one would expect of a batsman of his calibre. Moeen Ali batted at No 3 on Saturday, but didn’t look a natural fit. Shimron Hetmyer is very talented young cricketer and in his first stint in the IPL, has a lot of responsibilities. Parthiv Patel is a fighter but won’t win Bangalore matches on his own.

Virat Kohli vs Mumbai Indians
Virat Kohli fell early in Bangalore’s last game, which means he’s due a score. IANS

Beyond that, the domestic talent of Akshdeep Nath, Gurkeerat Singh, Milind Kumar and Washington Sundar will struggle to get playing chances. Australian allrounder Marcus Stoinis has not landed in India yet. (READ: We have a good chance if we get AB de Villiers early: Quinton de Kock)

This means that Kohli, Parthiv, de Villiers, Moeen and Hetmyer have their hands full. If they all click, Bangalore look a strong unit. The question hinges on that if.

How much will Mumbai miss Bumrah?

Kohli declared Jasprit Bumrah the “best bowler in the world” after the fast bowler’s match-winning performance in the MCG Test in December. Bumrah, ranked No 1 in ODIs, is Kohli’s strike bowler in all formats but on Thursday, his chances of facing him appear very slim.

Bumrah injured himself during Sunday’s game with Delhi and is an unlikely starter for this game. He turned up at Mumbai’s practice session on Tuesday but did not bowl, which suggests that the team will have to draft in someone else. Barinder Sran is the leading candidate from the Indian pool of pace bowlers.

Will Malinga get a chance?

Lasith Malinga did not get a chance in the season opener, but having received permission from Sri Lanka Cricket to participate in the league, he is available. Malinga is the tournament’s all-time leading wicket-taker and Mumbai could use his experience, even if he is on the last legs of his international career.

The question is: who drops out of Malinga returns?

The New Zealand left-arm pace bowler Mitchell McClenaghan has taken 71 wickets for Mumbai, so that proves his success and reliability. The Australia allrounder Ben Cutting does not bowl regularly in the IPL but is a proven performer in T20 cricket. And dropping Cutting would mean Mumbai are a batsman short.

Maybe Malinga will have to wait another day for his chance.