Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2014, Abu Dhabi April 15, 2014

On-field action set to divert from off-field drama


Match facts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Start time 1830 (1430 GMT, 2000 IST)

Big Picture

Just over a month ago, the IPL was still looking for a venue, thanks to the Indian federal elections. Three weeks ago, there were question marks over whether the tournament will take place at all, thanks to the IPL corruption case being heard by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday will be a big day for the IPL, not just because the first match of the season gets underway in the evening in Abu Dhabi, but also because the next court hearing is in the morning in Delhi.

The vast majority of IPL fans are likely to be interested only in the on-field action, when defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders. Attendance numbers hardly took a hit even when three Rajasthan Royals players were arrested midway through the previous season. The news has been relentlessly bad since the previous season, but that doesn't seem to have affected ticket sales in the UAE. The tournament also provides fans in the region a rare chance to watch Indian stars in action, after an eight-year absence.

The Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi has not traditionally been a high-scoring venue - there have been nine Twenty20 internationals held so far, and only once has a team scored more than 168. That trend of low scores looks set to continue as Mumbai and Knight Riders have two of the better attacks in the tournament.

Mumbai retained five of their key players, and snapped up the reliable Michael Hussey - last season's highest run-getter - and flavour-of-the-season Corey Anderson, but their squad seems to lack the depth it had in 2013. Knight Riders have four core members of the squad from 2013 - Gautam Gambhir, Sunil Narine, Jacques Kallis and Yusuf Pathan. They have invested in Robin Uthappa and Australia's Chris Lynn, but the batting still looks a touch light.

Watch out for...

Both sides have a pair of spinners who have excelled at the IPL. Neither Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha may not find a regular place in the national team, but for Mumbai, they have been vital cogs for several years. Similarly, Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla have flourished in the league, and should again prove difficult to contend with.

Both teams will look to 38-year-olds who have retired from Tests to provide the stability in the top order. Hussey was outstanding last season, but will age start to catch up with him? Jacques Kallis had a less than stellar season in 2013, but can he turn things around given his workload in international cricket has vastly reduced?

Stats and trivia

  • Knight Riders have beaten Mumbai only twice in 12 IPL matches.

  • Knight Riders are the franchise with the least number of centuries in the IPL - 1, the blockbuster 158 Brendon McCullum hit on the opening day of the inaugural season.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • soumyas on April 18, 2014, 7:20 GMT

    have they changed the name of league to "Indian T20 League" ? i don't see Indian Premier League in the cricinfo site, Also I see teams as "chennai T20 vs Mohali T20" Is it only written by cricinfo site or have they changed the names?

  • android_user on April 16, 2014, 16:35 GMT

    mi will win the match

  • Cricinfouser on April 16, 2014, 14:32 GMT

    Can anyone pls let me know where can I find social scorecard page link on the cricinfo homepage. I am a big fan of soical commentary feature but not able to find the link for the same. If anyone can pls let me know I would be so grateful Thanks !!

  • android_user on April 16, 2014, 14:29 GMT

    today will win match mumbai indians beacause mumbai indians play ipl 12match with kkr mum indian win the match 10. so today willmum indian i hope mum indian team for today win.

  • AussieBogan on April 16, 2014, 13:47 GMT

    Sammurai that is just what I was thinking of. Very good point. Anyway, I don't know many young indian players andhow much overseas players you are allowed. I believe you are allowed. This is my XI for both teams.

    Mumbai Indians M Hussey, R Sharma (c), C Anderson, A Raydu, K Pollard, A Tare, CM Gautam (wk), H Singh, Z Khan, L Malinga, P Ojha

    Kolkata Knight Riders G Gambhir (c), R Uthappa (wk), M Pandey, Shakib, Y Pathan, D Das, A Russel, P Chawla, S Narine, M Morkel, U Yadav

  • wolf777 on April 16, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    I will take my chances with Royals....

  • wapuser on April 16, 2014, 13:27 GMT

    KKR best 11 : 1 Gambhir 2 R uthappa 3 M Pandey 4 Ten Doeschate 5 Sakib 6 Y Pathan. 7 AD Russell 8 P Chawla 9 V Kumar 10 S Narine 11 U Yadav

  • dummy4fb on April 16, 2014, 13:08 GMT

    Uthappa s bak!! hope he brings with him a couple of tons..!!

  • Steve92 on April 16, 2014, 13:01 GMT

    MoreOver kallis is totally waste worth around 6 crores.They use RTM otherwise CSK would bought kallis.KKR overseas players xl are toeschate,morne morkel,narine and russel.Inian players are far better in kkr gambir,uthappa,bisla,umesh yadav,yusuf,vinay kumar and manish.

  • dummy4fb on April 16, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    The Inagural match will be a cracker of the game strong words to be written on the wall from Gauti , Bhajji & Yousuf Pathan . Wishing the trio all the best !My Favourite in this match is KKR thats only due to Sunil Naryan .

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