After just five months since Mumbai Indians won its record-extending fifth Indian Premier League title, it is all set to defend it in IPL 2021. While the previous edition was held in the United Arab Emirates due to India's COVID challenges, the tournament is back in India this term, being played across six venues with no home advantage.

The opening game of the 14th edition is all set to be played on Friday, with MI getting its title defence underway against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the MA Chidambaram (Chepauk) Stadium in Chennai. A clash of two of the best batsmen in India, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, the match promises to be a thriller, as we present the match preview for the same.

2020 form
As for the sides' form last season, MI was unstoppable, having convincingly finished atop the table and won the final with ease against Delhi Capitals, thus labelling itself as the undisputed champion. As for RCB, it managed to finish fourth and would be looking to make it even better this term, as Kohli and looks to end its 13-year title drought.

Team composition and combination
MI somewhat has a balanced squad with a slender focus on its bowling. With enough capped talents in the bowling attack, the batsmen are sure to have a tough time, even while chasing a modest total.

Meanwhile, RCB is entirely the opposite, as it has one again focussed on its batting and bolstered the department, compared to bowling. However, it has relatively more capped talent in its bowling attack than batting, making the sides equally competitive in all departments.

Injury concerns
While MI does not have any fresh injury concerns, RCB was dealt with a setback after Josh Philippe pulled out while Finn Allen came in as his replacement. Meanwhile, Daniel Sams is set to miss the opening game for RCB after testing COVID positive.

Head-to-head
In 29 matches between the two, MI has won 19, with RCB winning ten. In 27 IPL games, MI has won 17, with RCB winning the ten. Of the 23 matches in India, MI has won 16 against RCB's six. The two have clashed in Chennai on two occasions, with both winning apiece.

Weather and pitch report
The weather in Chennai is expected to be clear and hot, with the temperature likely to be around 33 degrees. The pitch is likely to be on the slow side again, with spinners coming into effect, making Yuzvendra Chahal and Rahul Chahar the ones to watch out for.

Probable XI
MI:
Rohit Sharma (c), Chris Lynn, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (wk), Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Piyush Chawla, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah.
RCB: Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Rajat Patidar, Sachin Baby, Daniel Christian, Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kane Richardson.

Fantasy XI
Batsmen:
Rohit, Kohli & Suryakumar- Rohit and Kohli are no-brainers here as the openers, while Surykumar has been in a deadly form and is a right fit at number three in the top-order.
Wicketkeepers: De Villiers & Kishan- De Villiers, too, is a must-have here, while Kishan's reliable form, too, makes him a mandatory inclusion in the side.
All-rounders: Pollard, Pandya & Sundar- Pollard and Pandya can make an effect in each of the departments. Sundar can be reliable in the middle, while he is indeed effective with his spins.
Bowlers: Chawla, Chahal & Chahar- Owing to the slow nature of the Chennai track, an all-out spin attack is our pick, with Chahal being the prime Twenty20 bowler, while Chahar is likely to continue his same form from last season. Meanwhile, Chawla has a good idea of the Chepauk track and would be effective with his wrist spins.

Match details
Date and day:
April 9, 2021 (Friday)
Venue: MA Chidambaram (Chepauk) Stadium, Chennai
Time: 7.30 PM (IST)
Where to watch (TV): Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 Hindi (Also available in HD, along with regional languages)
Where to watch (Online): Hotstar