Can Mumbai start their title defense with a win?

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Two of the biggest names in Indian cricket, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, are set to face off in opening match of IPL 2021. How do they stack up against each other in terms of IPL batting and captaincy? Here’s the lowdown.

Mumbai Indians are far less dependent on Sharma the batsman than the Royal Challengers on Kohli. While Sharma has moved himself around the batting order, Kohli is a top-order specialist. Only four times has he batted outside the top three for the Royal Challengers, contributing 22.93% of the team’s runs overall.

On the other hand, more than 40% of Sharma’s captaincy career has been spent batting outside the top three. He stuck to the opening spot in the last two seasons, but has not achieved high levels of consistency or volume of runs. However, when he makes significant scores, the chances of Mumbai Indians winning are higher: only seven of his 22 fifties as captain have resulted in defeats, and he was Player of the Match on 12 out of the 15 occasions when he scored fifties in wins.

Kohli, too, has been a key contributor in the Royal Challengers’ wins, scoring one-fourth of the team’s tally in those matches. Kohli’s batting average as captain in wins shoots up to 64.02, with four centuries and 15 fifties in 55 victories.

Sharma has been part of a record six victorious campaigns (with Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians), including five as Mumbai Indians captain. Under Sharma, Mumbai Indians have been the league’s most successful franchise, winning 68 out of 116 matches. However, Sharma’s performance with the bat as captain is not exceptional. He averages 30.25 as captain, against 32.91 without the captaincy tag. Kohli is one of four IPL captains with 100-plus caps – he is the only one on this list to not win the title.

Kohli’s overall win-loss record as IPL captain isn’t great either. The Royal Challengers have won only 55 out of 125 matches under him. However, as a batsman, there are not many who can match Kohli’s consistency and impact. He is the leading run-getter in the competition and also holds the record for most runs as captain. Kohli’s average as captain of 43.88 is second only to David Warner’s (49.01) among those with 1000-plus runs as captain, and well ahead of his IPL average before he started leading the Royal Challengers (26.96).

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