The first match of the newest season of the Indian Premier League will see Kolkata Knight Riders, the winners of the 2012 edition, go up against Mumbai Indians, who won the 2013 IPL as well as Champions League T20 and will thus be one of the major contenders for 2014 as well.
Form: As far as form is concerned it is hard to make any prediction on that regard since it is the first match for both the teams.
First eleven: Judging from the way the Mumbai Indians have assembled their team the following players could appear today in the starting line-up:
Rohit Sharma, Mike Hussey, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Aditya Tare, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Zaheer Khan and Pragyan Ojha.
Kolkata Knight Riders have brought in plenty of new faces with the hope of rejuvenating its fortunes and winning something – at least a Champions League T20 spot – which they were unable to achieve last season. It can be expected that some of the new names will be part of the first eleven this season:
Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Piyush Chawla, Vinay Kumar, Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav
Importance of the match: Given the fact that this is the first match, both teams will be looking forward to getting off to a winning start and get the momentum necessary to perform well in the encounters that lie ahead.
Issues for the teams: Mumbai has a fantastic first eleven with good balance in all the departments but the quality of reserves, especially in the batting department, leaves a lot to be desired. That could be a problem once any one of the main players starts to misfire or are injured. However, this could also lead to the emergence of a new name.
Kolkata also suffers from the same problem with a relatively thin batting back up with the likes of Manvinder Bisla and Debabrata Das yet to establish themselves in first class cricket in India. That is an area that the management will have to look into if the Kolkata based team wants to do better than how it performed in 2013.
Since both teams have strong bowling line-ups they will be looking to bat first upon winning the toss. It remains to be seen how they cope if they have to field first. How well they handle this pressure will go a long way in determining how this IPL season ends for them.