Mumbai Indians (MI) are traditional slow-starters in the IPL but on paper, they will be the favourites against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the opening game in Abu Dhabi.

MI looks the most prepared and set team with a scary batting line-up of Rohit, Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik and Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard. Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile will complete their quota of foreigners.

For CSK, the core has remained the same save for Suresh Raina, who was their worst performer last year and has pulled out citing personal reasons this year. His replacement Ruturaj Gaikwad remains in quarantine having tested COVID-19 positive at least five times.

But there is Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, and Bravo, who have all won matches from hopeless situations. Mitchell Santner and Lungi Ngidi will complete their four-foreigner line-up in case Sam Curran and Josh Hazlewood are unavailable.

In case Curran is allowed to travel to Abu Dhabi, he could well be the pinch hitter at the top of the order. CSK can only be ignored at one’s own peril. (PTI)