Mumbai: One, the defending champions, the other, the proverbial IPL kings, coming back after two-year suspension but “ready to go”. The stage is set for one of the biggest and fiercest Indian Premier League (IPL) rivalries to resume as Mumbai Indians (MI) take on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the opening game of IPL 2018 at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.
CSK had once led the race with the most number of IPL titles (2) but MI, who had not won a title in the first years of the tournament to CSK’s two till 2013, have overtaken the Men in Yellow and now have the most number of IPL titles (3).
While there are Southern derbies and the Maharashtra derbies in IPL, the MI versus CSK, as Stephen Fleming said, is “a great rivalry”.
The two teams have locked horns 22 times in IPL and MI have won 12 of those encounters, including 5 wins on their home ground.
“(It’s a) Great rivalry and this is what the competition needs. We couldn’t ask for a better game to start with. A game of this intensity at this ground is always a thrill. So the players are excited about it.
"Hard to win, just as we are hard to beat at Chennai and that’s an aspect of successful teams, they defend their home patch well. Great challenge for us to start, wouldn’t have wanted it any other way,” said Fleming during his pre-match press conference here on Friday.
While the Rohit Sharma-led unit is coming into this tournament as the defending champions, CSK, suspended following the spot-fixing saga, are making an IPL comeback after two years. Fleming made it clear though that there have been no scars of the episode on the team.
“It doesn’t have an influence on the players. Players didn’t do anything to be scarred from, so there are no scars there,” said Fleming before adding that the team is “prepared well”.
“I think we’ve prepared well. There are just a lot of nerves around but no more than normal. Players want to get into it and we have had the best part of 12 days leading into the competition so the feeling is one of we are ready to play.
"Certainly we’ve trained hard in the nets and the practice games so we’ve done all we can but there’s still the element of getting into the tournament and getting into the team selections right. The general feeling is we’re just ready to go,” said the former New Zealand skipper....