Cricket's biggest show-stopper, the 14th edition of the Indian Premier League has arrived.
IPL 2021 begins proceedings with a colourful clash between two teams that are placed at opposite ends of the IPL spectrum.
Mumbai Indians are serial winners and hold the record for the most IPL wins in history. Royal Challengers Bangalore, on the other hand, are serial underachievers and are looking to end their trophy drought this season.
The two sides met each other twice in the United Arab Emirates last season in IPL 2020.
Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore couldn't be separated after the two group stage fixtures. RCB won the first match, but it did require them a Super Over to beat the mighty Mumbai Indians after Ishan Kishan almost ended up winning the game for MI with his belligerent 58-ball 99.
In the reverse fixture, it was the eventual champions who came out on top. Thanks to a swashbuckling knock from Suryakumar Yadav, Mumbai Indians ended up having the last laugh in a match where RCB's Devdutt Padikkal also starred with the bat.
As fans and experts across the entire cricketing world begin circling the 8 PM IST to 11 PM IST period on their schedules with a red marker and a simple note titled IPL, we take a look at some of the player battles that could end up defining the season opener between MI and RCB:
Player battles that rule the MI vs RCB clash
#5 Jasprit Bumrah vs AB De Villiers
Two illustrious stars of the game, one, many would argue, is past his prime and the other whose best days are likely still ahead of him.
AB De Villiers bid goodbye to international cricket a long time ago but continues to exude the same brazen brilliance and romanticism with his presence on the field.
Jasprit Bumrah, meanwhile, is nothing less than a sharpshooter, a cold mercenary who can topple batting units with his spell and walk away expressionless.
AB De Villiers has managed to score 99 runs off 70 deliveries bowled by Jasprit Bumrah.
The pace sensation has also got rid of the former South African captain on two occasions in the IPL.
While Bumrah has kept a leash on De Villiers' hard-hitting arsenal restricting him to a strike rate of just 128, two dismissals in 70 deliveries isn't exactly a bragworthy statistic either.
It's unclear who walks out as the winner in this battle of the titans and it will be interesting to see who has the last laugh in the season opener.
#4 Trent Boult vs Virat Kohli
This battle could end up being spicier this season given the fact that Virat Kohli is likely to open for RCB in IPL 2021 and will come up against Trent Boult in the Powerplay.
While Virat Kohli is the leading run-scorer in the tournament's history, Boult has had just two great IPL seasons since 2015.
Nevertheless, he's capable of owning the biggest moments as was evident in the IPL 2020 Final when he struck twice in the Powerplay to dismantle DC's momentum.
In the head-to-head battle, it's Virat Kohli who comes out on top.
He has scored 28 runs from 22 deliveries off Trent Boult while the Kiwi fast bowler has never dismissed the Indian skipper in the IPL.
#3 Rohit Sharma vs Yuzvendra Chahal
Mumbai Indians' undisputed leader squaring off against Royal Challengers Bangalore's premier spinner could prove to be a noteworthy battle that might define the game.
They're both teammates in the Indian team and obviously, know each other's strengths and weaknesses which lends this battle another interesting context.
So far, Rohit Sharma has managed to score 29 runs off 31 balls, which just goes on to show how tightly Chahal has bowled against the opening batsman.
Meanwhile, the leg-spinner has also dismissed MI's captain once in the IPL.
#2 Suryakumar Yadav vs Washington Sundar
Suryakumar Yadav and Washington Sundar are two players who have recently embarked on their international careers.
While Sundar has been around the national team longer, Suryakumar Yadav has a better pedigree in the IPL.
'Sky' has amassed 2,024 runs in his IPL career and has an average of 30.21.
He has been particularly impressive since 2017 and has been scoring for fun.
Washington Sundar has been playing in the IPL since 2017 and has picked up 24 wickets in 36 matches. He can also bat in the lower middle order and his skills were on show during the recent assignments against Australia and England.
In the IPL, 'Sky' has faced only seven deliveries from Washington Sundar and has scored 5 runs without getting dismissed. Not a big enough sample size to judge who holds the advantage going into the first clash.
#1 Rahul Chahar vs Glenn Maxwell
You'd probably be surprised to find out who comes out on top of this battle.
Glenn Maxwell is a genuine superstar in the white-ball format and there is no shortage of bowlers who can attest to the carnage Maxwell can leave behind in his wake.
Meanwhile, Rahul Chahar burst onto the scene in IPL 2019 and only recently made his international debut for Team India against England in the recently concluded series.
However, what is amusing is the fact that Rahul Chahar has dismissed Glenn Maxwell twice in 17 deliveries bowled in the IPL while the big-hitting Aussie has managed just 18 runs against the wrist spinner.