The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) start their 2013 Indian Premier League campaign on Thursday, when they face the Mumbai Indians (MI) at Bengaluru's M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Where to Watch Live
Play starts at 3.30pm BST. Live coverage is available on ITV 4 and ITV 4 HD. Follow the match live, via text updates, on ESPN Cricinfo.
RCB will be hoping for a bright start to the season and an improvement from the last campaign, when they failed to progress past the league stages. The Vijay Mallya-owned team will once again look to destructive West Indian batsman Chris Gayle for high-powered starts; the 33-year-old powerful left-hander is a two-time Orange Cap winner (awarded to the batsman with most runs every season).
And, for good measure, RCB also have South African captain AB De Villiers, Sri Lankan veteran Tillakaratne Dilshan and Indian middle-order expert Virat Kohli to make them some runs. All of this adds up to an extremely strong and impressive batting line-up. In addition, both Gayle and Dilshan can contribute with the ball and in De Villiers, RCB have a top-class wicketkeeper.
The problem for captain Kohli though, is front-line seamer Zaheer Khan. Once the bedrock of India's pace attack, the 34-year-old has struggled with injuries and poor form and was overlooked for the recent Test series against Australia.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai Indians boast an equally high-powered batting line-up, with the undoubted stars being Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting. The two, between them, have a staggering number of runs and amount of experience and, more importantly a Twenty20 strike rate over 120 runs per 100 balls.
Ponting and Tendulkar will be backed by the Mumbai Indians' own West Indian whirlwind - Kieron Pollard - who can be every bit as destructive as Gayle. The visitors also have Indian youngster Ambati Rayudu and boast IPL 2013's million-dollar man - Glenn Maxwell.
With the ball, expect Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga to be as deadly as ever. The lightning-quick seamer may not be allowed to play in Chennai, against the Chennai Super Kings, because of political tensions between India and Sri Lanka but he will be available for all the other games and a record of 192 wickets in 140 Twenty20 games, at an average of 17.22, means that if he gets going, the opposition are in trouble.
The bad news for Mumbai, though, is Malinga will not play this game; he is injured. This means captain Ponting will have to look to compatriot Mitchell Johnson to provide the early breakthroughs, with the Indian spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha and seamer Munaf Patel to provide back-up.
RCB: Khan will probably miss this game after a calf problem during a first-class match. Aside from him, though, the hosts are expected to have a full strength squad. Expect Gayle and De Villiers to be certain picks in the quota of four foreign players in team, with the Sri Lankan duo of Mutthiah Muralitharan and Dilshan likely to be the other two.
MI: The big blow is the absence of Malinga but there is adequate back-up, in the form of Johnson, James Franklin, Pollard, Kiwi all-rounder Jacob Oram and the Indian contingent. Expect Johnson and Pollard to definitely start the game.