Rising Pune Supergiant host two-time champions Mumbai Indians in the second match of 2017 Indian Premier League at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Thursday.
For the first time in nine seasons, MS Dhoni will not be captaining an IPL side and Steve Smith will lead the Supergiant. On the other hand, Mumbai Indians will be boosted by the return of their skipper Rohit Sharma, who has not played international cricket since undergoing a thigh surgery in November, last year.
Both teams failed to reach the playoffs last season and it will be important for the Maharashtra sides to get off to a good start. A lot of focus will be on Smith, who will be looking to repay the owners' trust in him and he has quite a few big names to rely on including Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis and English star Ben Stokes, who was sold for the highest price at the auction in February, among others.
While they will be missing R Ashwin and Mitchell Marsh due to injuries, leg spinners Imran Tahir and Adam Zampa will provide the boost their bowling attack needs. Despite having Rajat Bhatia, Ashok Dinda and Jayadev Unadkat, the lack of a quality Indian pacer might affect them.
On the other hand, Mumbai Indians have one of the best pace batteries this year with Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Tim Southee and Jasprit Bumrah sharing the attack. However, the Sri Lankan speedster will not be available for today's match due to international duty.
With the likes of quality all-rounders Kieron Pollard, Hardik and Krunal Pandya in their line-up, Mumbai are heading into the match with better balance. However, the Supergiant have enough firepower to match the visitors.
Possible XI: Smith (c), Rahane, Agarwal, Du Plessis, Stokes, Dhoni, Bhatia, Unadkat, Ankit, Dinda, Tahir
Possible XI: Rohit (c), Parthiv, Rayudu, Butler, Pollard, Hardik, Krunal, Harbhajan, Bumrah, Southee, Johnson