Mumbai's Galacticos and Chennai's Dad's Army to kick off TV-only jamboree
Despite bio-bubbles, empty stadiums and artificial crowd noise, IPL hopes to spread some cheer amid the pandemic gloom.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's poker face, Virat Kohli's raw emotions and Rohit Sharma's effortless handling of his 'Galacticos' will be back to charm cricket fans across the globe with the Indian Premier League starting on Saturday, promising to be a happy distraction in a world scarred by COVID-19.
Rohit Sharma's defending champions Mumbai Indians will be locking horns with Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings in what is likely to be a fittingly exciting opening showdown here. The tournament, which has been shifted to the UAE due to five million-plus COVID cases in India, is a 'TV-only event', expected to be lapped up by all and sundry who crave for cricket and Bollywood in equal measure during prime time.
The next 53 days would belong to Dhoni's CSK, Kohli's RCB and Rohit's Mumbai Indians challenged by young pretenders comprising KL Rahul's KXIP and Shreyas Iyer's Delhi Capitals among others.
The new normal
David Warner or Chris Gayle's towering sixes welcomed by artificial crowd cheer will be the new normal and the deafening roars during Super Overs will be missing but no one can complain as at least the show will go on in amid a devastating health crisis. A look at the teams would indicate that Mumbai Indians by a distance is the most formidable with Rohit, Pandya brothers—Hardik and Krunal—the indomitable Kieron Pollard and the 'King of Death' bowling Jasprit Bumrah giving it a menacing look.
The perennial Dad's Army Chennai Super Kings can never be counted out till that man with 'Hawk Eyes' uses his peripheral vision behind the stumps. For Kohli, winning a tournament as a captain would reaffirm his status even as naysayers question his style of leadership.
Delhi Capitals, with their new-found vigour and more pragmatic new owners, found their mojo last year and would like to go one better under an enormously talented skipper in Shreyas Iyer.
Rahul, future India captain?
KXIP's KL Rahul is a class act and how he shapes as a leader could also create a narrative for the future when Indian cricket goes through another change of guard.
The low profile Sunrisers Hyderabad once again will be gunning for a place in the summit clash and their skipper Warner knows how to win the IPL having always led the way with super performances.
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