Cricket is a game of great uncertainties and those uncertainties are at its peak in the sport's shortest format. T20 cricket's biggest pull is its unpredictability and that is the reason why the IPL sells like hotcakes. But one team is making all those uncertainties go away, in a very positive way.
Mumbai Indians' domination of the format for the past 8 years has seen the 'Blue Brigade' win the tournament 5 times in this span, and they go into the 2021 tournament as two-time defending champions, looking to become the first team to complete a hat-trick of titles in IPL.
The team's immovable core, the rise of exciting Indian cricketers like Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and Krunal Pandya and the addition of heavyweight overseas talents like Quinton de Kock and Trent Boult has made them achieve an aura of invincibility.
Rohit Sharma's calm leadership, Jasprit Bumrah's smooth transition into becoming the team's premier paceman and the Pollard-Hardik combo at the death means Mumbai Indians continue to be the team to beat in this competition.
On Friday, they will take the field at Chennai against Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore with renewed vigour and with the hope of correcting one blot they have in their list of records. Mumbai have been perennial slow starters and have not won their opening game of the season since 2012.
MI have a decent record in Chennai, having won 5 out of their 8 IPL outings at the venue and that is reason enough for the RCB faithfuls to be worried.
But RCB is a franchise that is never low on star power and hope. Captain Virat Kohli's decision to open for the first time since his record-breaking season of 2016 is reason enough for the side to feel positive. His partnership at the top with the impressive Devdutt Padikkal could be one of the highlights of this season.
AB de Villiers remains the talisman in the middle order and might have a bit of burden taken away from his shoulders due to the presence of Glenn Maxwell in the squad. The Aussie was picked up for an astronomical amount despite his poor showing for Kings XI last season and he would want to repay the faith shown in him.
Yuzvendra Chahal's presence will be a constant threat for the Mumbai batsmen and spin is one area where RCB can outclass MI in. Kyle Jamieson, the tall Kiwi paceman who is coming off a poor series against Australia, has the ability to trouble the MI batsmen with his disconcerting bounce.
Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini will have their tails up after their exploits for the national team and all of these factors together would give Mike Hesson's team a fighting chance to start the campaign with a win.
Mumbai Indians have a 17-9 advantage on head-to-head but past results matter very less in a format where destinies can change within a few balls. RCB would hope the Chepauk pitch is not a belter as that would aide MI's stroke makers.
An interesting contest is at our hands as the Indian Premier League's 14 season gets underway on Friday.