Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will play last year's Champions League Twenty20 winners Mumbai Indians at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in the south Indian city of Chennai, in what will be the opening game of the 2012 Indian Premier League.
There really could not be a more perfect fixture for an opening game - these are the two strongest teams in the tournament and will undoubtedly try to set the tone of this high-octane cricketing spectacle that will unfold over the next eight weeks.
Chennai, led by Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, will be banking on home advantage as they start their quest for a third consecutive IPL trophy. Dhoni would like to put the recent poor form of the Indian national team, under his charge, and ease the pressure on him by captaining the Super Kings to an unprecedented third straight IPL crown. The hosts have a dependable batting line-up in Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath and Murali Vijay, who will be joined by all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (signed during this season's player auctions). Meanwhile, Australian pacer Doug Bollinger and South Africa's Albie Morkel are expected to lead the pace charge, while the spin department will be led by local boy Ravichandran Ashwin. However, Chennai will miss the services of Australians Mike Hussey and Ben Hilfenhaus for the initial part of the tournament, as the duo are on national duty in the West Indies.
The Mumbai Indians will be led by Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh after the country's cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar stepped down from captaincy on Tuesday. With the pressure of 100 international tons finally off his back, Tendulkar is expected to perform as consistently as he did last year. Mumbai and their new captain will be quietly confident of their abilities, considering they won the Champions League T20 tournamnet last year and will see this year as the perfect chance to win their maiden IPL trophy. In Kieron Pollard and Richard Levi, Mumbai have two big-hitters who can turn a match on its head and also boast a talented middle-order batsman in Rohit Sharma. Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga and Indian bowler Munaf Patel will lead the pace attack, while captain Harbhajan Singh will be the pick of the spinners in the side. Mumbai have added Herschelle Gibbs, Mitchell Johnson, Thisara Perera, Robin Peterson, Dinesh Karthik, Prgayan Ojha and RP Singh to their squad through this year's auctions.
The pitch will be crucial to the match's outcome and indications are it should offer pace and bounce and help fast bowlers and spinners alike.
The match can be followed live on cricinfo.com.