MUMBAI, Sporting Alert – The opening game of the IPL 2016 tournament will bowl off on Saturday where defending champions Mumbai Indians take on new entrants Rising Pune Supergiants at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Watch Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiants Live Stream (20:00 local time | 14:30 GMT | 10:30 EDT | 09:30 CDT | 07:30 PDT)
Mumbai Indians, who have been itching to get their title defense underway, have another strong setup this season and the champs are 4/5 favourites to brush off new comers Rising Pune Supergiants, according to Sky Bet.
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The hosts announced that they have retained 19 of the players that won them the title last season with Rohit Sharma, who has led the team to two IPL crowns, retaining his status as the captain.
Among the important players returning for Mumbai this year are Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh, West Indies allrounder Kieron Pollard and countryman Lendl Simmons, England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, as well as Corey Anderson and Tim Southee of New Zealand
Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga is also another important player for the title holders, but coach Ricky Pontings has ruled the injured star out of the first half of the tournament after he hurt his knees before this year’s World T20.
“He’s not with the squad now. He’s unlikely to take part in the first half of the tournament,” said Ponting at a press conference this week. “If we want to name a replacement we have to do so before the fifth game.”
Ponting admits that Malinga, who led the Mumbai attack last year, is a very important player for the franchise, but also revealed that they have “adequate replacements” should the Sri Lankan star fail to recover.
“If you look at last season when we were playing our best cricket, Malinga was bowling at his best as well,” the former Australian captain said.
“He’s been one of the great performers in world cricket with the new as well as the old ball. He will be definitely missed, but we have more than adequate replacements if he’s ruled out,” he added.
Meanwhile, Rising Pune Supergiants, who joined the IPL in December 2015, will be hoping to get off to a winning start and what a victory would it be if they were to knock off the defending champions, who are again one of the title favourites for this term.
Despite being new the travelers have the fire power to pull off a positive result, as the likes of Kevin Pietersen, MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Steve Smith and Faf du Pleases are among the batsmen who can punish any bowler on their day.
Meanwhile, the bowling attack will be led by Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan and allrounder Mitchell Marsh.
Rohit Sharma (C), Corey Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah, Jos Buttler (W), Unmukt Chand, Marchant de Lange, Shreyas Gopal, Harbhajan Singh, Kishore Kamath, Siddhesh Lad, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Kieron Pollard, Deepak Punia, Nitish Rana, Jitesh Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Nathu Singh, Lendl Simmons, Tim Southee, Jagadeesha Suchith, Vinay Kumar, Akshay Wakhare
Rising Pune Supergiants
MS Dhoni (C) (W), Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ravichandran Ashwin, Murugan Ashwin, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Scott Boland, Deepak Chahar, Ashok Dinda, Francois du Plessis, Peter Handscomb, Jaskaran Singh, Mitchell Marsh, Albie Morkel, Ishwar Pandey, Irfan Pathan, Thisara Perera, Kevin Pietersen, Ajinkya Rahane, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Steve Smith, Saurabh Tiwary, Adam Zampa