The IPL is set to restart on Sunday in the UAE and it will kick off with a blockbuster clash between defending champions Mumbai Indians and three-time Chennai Super Kings in Dubai.
Between them, Mumbai and Chennai have eight titles and this could well be a dress rehearsal of the Indian Premier League 2021 final, as the action finally gets under way in the UAE after it was halted in India in May due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in some of the franchises.
This is truly a clash between two heavyweights.
Chennai Super Kings are sitting on 10 points and Mumbai Indians are only two behind in the standings. Both would, obviously, like to restart their campaign with a win. The last they met before the IPL was suspended and it was a humdinger when Mumbai’s Kieron Pollard pulled off a heist and helped the Indians chase down a target of 226 to pip Chennai Super Kings.
Both teams have a history of close games over the past decade or so, with Mumbai having the upper hand in the head-to-head column against Chennai, but this is a whole new ball game on very different fields to what the guys would have been used to back in India. On this level playing field, this clash could show just who wants to be the boss of IPL.
Chennai coach Stephen Fleming was very bullish about his team’s chances as they have a full squad of players available and ready to contribute.
While these two fight it out on Sunday, table-toppers Delhi Capitals will be looking on with interest as they are already on 12 points and will be weighing up the competition they may face in the play-offs. They have played one game more than their main rivals with eight under their belt.
Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore are also in a good position on 10 points after seven games and these four teams looked to be the favourites to reach the business end of the competition. But after the break, we need to see if the other teams can catch up and make it to the play-offs.
Rajasthan Royals are on six points alongside Punjab Kings. But Rajasthan are missing some of their top players — such as star trio Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler.
The bottom two teams Kolkata Knight Riders, who are on four points and two ahead of struggling Sunrisers Hyderabad, can still reach the knockout stages if they win six of their last seven games. We will all be watching and waiting how it will pan out and see which team gets the right start and manages to keep the momentum to make it to the top four. In simple words, the teams which get their combination right on the UAE pitches will have a great chance to qualify.
This is the biggest spectacle of cricket, back in the UAE and everyone around the world will be glued to it. The door is open for pretty much all the team to get their hands on the trophy on October 15 in Dubai.
Let the games (re)begin. I for one cannot wait.