Tough opener for Mumbai's foreigners
Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, September 24
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
They call themselves Mumbai Indians. But their 14-man squad has no one from Mumbai, and seven who aren't Indians. Three of those overseas players chose to play for Mumbai, ahead of other sides participating in the Champions League. If you thought that was farcical, consider this - an injury-induced relaxation in the rules allows Mumbai to field five overseas players instead of the four normally afforded to IPL sides, already generous when compared to the other teams. High-intensity earthquake zones present more level playing fields than this.
Even after the relief provided by the organisers, Mumbai look a side in strife. Harbhajan Singh - on the back of his worst season in international cricket - leads an outfit missing three Indian stars, including the biggest of them all. Sachin Tendulkar's absence is a challenge not only for Mumbai, but for the tournament itself. The problem won't be felt too badly at Chepauk though, which should fill up with faithful locals, who lapped up an entire IPL season without witnessing a home defeat.
Chennai Super Kings are among the favourites to win the tournament, and overwhelming favourites for their opening game. Michael Hussey won almost every piece of silverware on offer in Sri Lanka, while MS Dhoni was the Player of the Tournament in the England ODIs, a series in which Suresh Raina shook off his Test blues. R Ashwin and Doug Bollinger are also coming off consistent international performances. Mumbai will have to pull off a big surprise to put it past a bunch that has come into such good form ahead of the tournament.
Watch out for …
What has Andrew Symonds been up to? He had a limited role in the IPL and hasn't played any cricket since. Not that he will turn up rusty - expect him to fly, and let fly from the covers. Expect fireworks when he is at the crease. And read his lips when he sets fields in consultation with his captain Harbhajan.
M Vijay was the Man of the Match in the 2010 Champions League final, and in this year's IPL final. He wasn't able to capitalise on the India opportunities that came his way since, and this tournament gives him the chance to start afresh ahead of the Indian domestic season.
The Super Kings roped in Nuwan Kulasekara as a replacement for Tim Southee, but he is not a sure pick in the XI. They tend to play three spinners, especially at home, and the two spots for seamers are likely to go to Albie Morkel and Bollinger.
Mumbai are likely to bench Dilhara Fernando and James Franklin, unless there are more injuries in the lead-up, prompting additional tweaks to the rules. The bigger challenge will be filling in the seven local berths. Ambati Rayudu's form could dictate how far Mumbai go in the tournament.
Stats and trivia
- R Ashwin was the Player of the Tournament of the Champions League 2010
- The Super Kings and Mumbai have clashed nine times in IPL history, winning CSK leading the head-to-heads 5-4
- Andrew Symonds has made 2115 runs in 89 Twenty20s at a strike-rate of 148.73 - the highest aggregate in a Mumbai side that is without Rohit Sharma
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"If New Zealand lose, Scott [Styris] will wear a Springbok jersey and post the picture on Twitter, and vice versa for Albie [Morkel] if the Boks lose."
Faf du Plessis and his team-mates are watching the Rugby World Cup closely
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo