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Updated: October 13, 2012 19:22 IST

Mumbai to kick-off title defence against Lions

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Mumbai Indians skipper Harbhajan Singh
Mumbai Indians skipper Harbhajan Singh

All eyes will be on Sachin Tendulkar and skipper Harbhajan Singh as defending champion Mumbai Indians takes on local team Lions in its opening Champions League T20 match here on Sunday.

Tendulkar, whose last competitive game was a Test match between India and New Zealand in Bangalore earlier last month, will be keen on doing well as his performance will certainly have a bearing on Mumbai Indians’ fortunes in the tournament.

For the 39-year-old champion batsman, it will also be a chance to prove his detractors wrong after he was bowled thrice during the Test series against New Zealand, while Harbhajan will like to use this opportunity to get requisite confidence and make a case for himself before the Test team selection.

Harbhajan, who won the man-of-the-match award against England in the recently concluded World T20, would like to prove that the performance wasn’t a mere flash in the pan.

Huge challenge for CSK

Featuring players who shone at the World T20, Australia’s Sydney Sixers might prove to be quite a handful for Chennai Super Kings when the two teams clash in the opening Group B encounter.

Sixers has quite an ace up its sleeve in all-rounder Shane Watson, the man who was destructive with the bat and incisive with the ball in the World T20.

Such was the 31-year-old’s form, that he netted four man-of-the-match trophies before walking away with the ‘player of the tournament’ award even though Australia crashed out in the semifinals.

In the form of his life, if Watson manages to keep fatigue at bay, he could well turn out to be the most valuable player in the event.

Chennai, on the other hand, has a few issues to deal with. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will come into the tournament as a man under scrutiny after being an uninspiring leader during India’s doomed World T20 campaign.

The batting line-up of the IPL runner-up features some reliable names such as Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina and Dhoni himself, but the team lacks the one aggressor who can intimidate the rival attack.

Faf du Plessis and Albie Morkel have a reputation of being destructive when on song, but the South Africans lack consistency, even though being on home turf might just work to their advantage.

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