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IPL 2023: Can Mumbai Indians surf on Virat Kohli’s turf tonight?

Updated on: 02 April,2023 07:22 AM IST  |  Bangalore
R Kaushik |

RCB supporters eagerly await the return of their star batter Virat at Chinnaswamy after four years, but a power-packed Mumbai Indians outfit will look to spoil their party

IPL 2023: Can Mumbai Indians surf on Virat Kohli’s turf tonight?

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Virat Kohli at a practice session at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore on Saturday. Pic/RCB @ Twitter

It’s been nearly four years since chants of ‘RCB, RCB’ rang out in a competitive setting at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. For all their travails in the Indian Premier League, Royal Challengers Bangalore have amongst the most loyal and vociferous of supporters, their relationship with the franchise firmed up by the continued presence since season one of Virat Kohli.

Come Sunday evening, those chants will reverberate around the Chinnaswamy when the home side begins its campaign in season 16 of the most celebrated franchise-based T20 league in the world, against perennial favourites Mumbai Indians. Rohit Sharma’s men might have finished at the bottom of the pile last season, when they managed just four wins in 14 games, but anyone who seeks to judge them by that performance alone will be in for a rude shock.

Customarily, the Mumbai franchise has struggled in the season immediately following a mega auction, but even as they stuttered and stumbled last season, it was obvious that the contours of a supremely competitive side was taking shape. A host of exciting young talent, both Indian and overseas, gradually came into its own as the season progressed, and that’s precisely what will give renewed hope to Rohit and new head coach Mark Boucher. 

Also Read: Virat Kohli hits the nets ahead of IPL 2023 campaign opener against Mumbai Indians

Big Bumrah factor

The five-time champions will have to contend without Jasprit Bumrah for the duration of the tournament, thus putting on hold their designs of unleashing the two Js—tearaway Englishman Jofra Archer is set for his long-awaited debut—and while it’s all but impossible to compensate for someone of the calibre of Bumrah, there is enough depth in the squad for Mumbai to not fall in the ‘also-rans’ category.

Like Mumbai, who will also be without Aussie quick Jhye Richardson, RCB have their fair share of injury woes. Josh Hazlewood, Will Jacks and last season’s breakout star Rajat Patidar are all unavailable, but there is so much class, experience and quality otherwise for Faf du Plessis and his men to believe this could be their season, though they will have to make do without Sri Lankan leggie Wanindu Hasaranga for the first week.

Inexperienced Indian core

There will be question marks over the strength of their Indian batting group beyond Kohli and the ageless Dinesh Karthik. In saying that, it’s always the sum of the parts that counts hugely; RCB, who have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, will try to offset their sparse Indian batting resources with contributions from elsewhere. Not for the first time, they will be heavily dependent on Kohli and maverick Australian Glenn Maxwell to shore them up.

Mumbai shade the head-to-head 17-13 and enjoy an 8-2 lead at the Chinnaswamy, but past records and history count for little in the IPL. Sunday is a new dawn, a fresh start, two crack outfits determined to start strongly at a batting-friendly venue.

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