IPL 2014 Preview: Defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) clash with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in IPL 7 opener

IPL 7 begins with the clash between the champions of the last two editions of the Indian Premier League. Since IPL 2014 begins in UAE none of the teams will have the much favoured home advantage in this opening game. Since the team line ups are fresh from the auctions, the match would be interesting in terms how both the teams cope with the changes that have taken place since the last edition of the tournament: (Read: Top 5 players to look forward to in IPL 7)

Mumbai Indians:

The Mumbai Indians have retained four of their main players from last year and also managed to retain Pragyan Ojha in the team. They also made sure that they fill the void that was left out in the team line up after the retirement of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar by including Michael Hussey in the squad. (Read: List of MI Players Bought for IPL 7)

X-factor: The Mumbai Indians have always been known to have a great bowling attack, and on the slow pitches that the UAE stadiums have had to offer in the past, the spin attack of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha will play a very important role against the KKR team. The team has a very balanced bowling attack, probably the best in the tournament.

Watch out for: Rohit Sharma, Corey Andersen.

Rohit has build a reputation for himself in the IPL and you can even make the argument that he might just be among the top 3 players in IPL history. His performance after being handed the captaincy of the team has been extra ordinary. On the other hand this is the first experience of the IPL for Corey Andersen, but you would be seriously underestimating his talents if you count him out. A serious performer with bat, ball and in the field, this might just be the addition that Mumbai Indians needs to retain their title.

Weak point: Even though there are some big names in the batting line up, there seems to be a slight imbalance in the batting department.

Kolkata Knight Riders:

The knight riders had a rather forgettable tournament last time around after their win in season 5 of the IPL. They have reduced the fat from the team and has retained most of their players at much lesser price than what they bought them for after season 3. With Gambhir leading the side again in this season and looking for a chance to get back into Indian colors you might just see an extremely motivated KKR side this year. (Read: List of KKR Players Bought for IPL 7)

X factor: Sunil Narine and Shakib al Hasan are among the two best spinners T20 has to offer. Both of them can turn a match right on its head and that’s exactly what KKR would be hoping for.

Watch out for: Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan.

Gautam Gambhir has been among the most prolific scorers in IPL history and with the extra motivation of performing to play for India again, he might just be the reason to fear for the Mumbai Indians in the first game. Yusuf on the other hand is minus the pressure of performing to his star price. One of the main reasons for Yusuf to be so successful in the first two seasons was the absence of pressure from his shoulders, and we believe that since he not priced tagged in the millions this time around, we once again will witness the Yusuf Pathan that we love to see.

Weak point: Inconsistency. It’s the first and the last enemy that the Knight Riders will have to fear. They have a very good all round team and the balance between bat and ball is as good as any other team in the tournament. The only thing they will have to fear is to underperform and crumble under pressure.