Rohit Sharma's MI are an IPL juggernaut that simply cannot be stopped. They cruised to a top-two spot in the league last year and seemed to raise their game even further in the playoffs. Second-placed Delhi Capitals were dispatched with ease not once but twice, strengthening MI's standing as the greatest franchise in the history of the IPL.
MI became only the second team to defend their title in the IPL and added a fifth trophy to their cabinet, which is fast running out of space. And to induce more fear in opposition teams' hearts, they made a number of smart acquisitions in the 2021 IPL auction.
RCB, on the other hand, are at the other end of the spectrum. While they got off to a brilliant start in IPL 2020, their form dipped rapidly as they bowed out to the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator. Virat Kohli's men made the playoffs for the first time in four years, but fans were left wanting a lot more from the team.
RCB tried to address these concerns by going all out in the IPL 2021 auction, snapping up Glenn Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson for astronomical amounts. With a new-look team that has retained its solid core, the three-time finalists can contend for the ultimate prize this year.
The IPL 2021 season opener between MI and RCB promises to be a cracking contest, and here's our prediction for the game.
IPL 2021: MI v RCB Match Prediction
The first game of an IPL season is always difficult to predict. Both MI and RCB have historically been slow starters, although the latter got off the blocks rapidly last year.
MI have a few concerns to address, especially with regards to their most proven performers.
Jasprit Bumrah is returning from a lengthy layoff and is a touch short of match practice. Rohit Sharma managed only one 50+ score in the eight white-ball games he played against England, while his opening partner Quinton de Kock has one 30+ score in his last 14 international innings. Others like Kieron Pollard and Nathan Coulter-Nile haven't put in a great deal of noteworthy performances of late.
RCB, meanwhile, have many of the same issues to contend with.
Devdutt Padikkal, while in rip-roaring touch in the domestic limited-overs tournaments, only recently recovered from COVID-19. AB de Villiers, while a genius like no other, isn't active in international cricket anymore. Kyle Jamieson, signed for INR 15 crores in the IPL 2021 auction, is low on both form and confidence.
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But both teams have a few star players at the top of their game as well.
Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav are in the form of their life, and will form the backbone of the MI middle order in IPL 2021. RCB skipper Virat Kohli, apart from all-rounder Washington Sundar and pacer Mohammed Siraj, are in decent nick at the moment.
While the IPL 2021 season opener between MI and RCB is expected to be a tightly contested affair, it's tough to see the result going against the defending champions.
A number of their players have featured in international games in the past and the playing XI bears a settled look - both of which that RCB can't boast of. The RCB bowling attack - especially the pace department - is still highly suspect, and might not be able to step up against the formidable MI batting lineup.
Moreover, with RCB likely to need at least a few games to arrive at their best possible combination, MI can make the most of the conditions at Chepauk. The venue shouldn't play much of a role in this game, as the pitch will be new and won't assist spin as much as it usually does in Chennai.
MI have gone from strength to strength in the IPL. They can be backed to get their 2021 campaign off to a flier with a win against RCB on April 9.
Prediction: MI to win