The second half of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 is set to kick start today (September 19) with the clash between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
CSK are currently in second place with 10 points from seven games, while MI are two spots below them with eight points from four matches, However, Brian Lara in an exclusive chat with Cricket.com feels that MI start off as favourites given that they have been in excellent form in the UAE.
“The fact that Mumbai Indians left Chepauk with a little bit of success, I think that will give them the confidence they need. They are going back to the UAE where they won the IPL 2020. For me, they are going to start favourites. Their confidence is going to be high just from the fact that they have got good memories of playing in the UAE. I think they can get the better of CSK,” Lara said on Cricket.com’s show Man vs Machine.
While Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah will continue to lead MI’s pace attack, Lara feels Australia all-rounder Nathan Coulter-Nile will be his choice as the third seamer.
“You want a third seamer in the UAE. It’s very hot. You expect the pitches to be dry and turn a bit. Nathan Coulter-Nile for me is always a good choice with the ball and he also fills the gap with the bat. Their dilemma is whether to go with a double spin or go in with a third seamer. I’ll have to see the conditions in the UAE to make that decision, but Coulter-Nile will be my choice,” Lara said.
Speaking of CSK, Lara feels that the men in yellow may not be as dominant as they were in India, but feels they have a good all-round team that could bring them success.
“They might have been the unhappiest team when it was curtailed in May. They have changed up a few players and I feel they have a more all-round team, especially getting Moeen Ali in,” the former West Indies captain said.
“I don’t think they’ll have the same dominance but definitely (will be) one of the qualifiers when the tournament gets to that stage. They will have to work hard in the UAE to get the same success. I believe the team is well gelled, the success they have had in the first half of the tournament is going to serve them well moving forward,” he added.
Virat Kohli took everyone by surprise when he decided that would step down as India’s T20I captain after the T20 World Cup. Lara who has led West Indies in 47 Tests and 125 ODIs says he was shocked to learn Kohli’s decision.
“I was in shock. I think he has done a tremendous job. He has played against all the big countries and beaten all of them. This is actually his first (T20) World Cup as a captain. To end his career as captain immediately after that is a big shock,” Lara, a veteran of 131 Tests and 299 ODIs said.
“The kind of intensity he plays with sometimes it might be good to take a step back, concentrate on some other format of the game. I’ve had these issues as well when I was playing. I stepped down as captain a couple of times. It could be very stressful. I’m not in his shoes, but I’m sure he made the decision – personal decision – but a decision that serves Indian cricket well.”