Chennai Super Kings will look to continue their good first-half showing in the tournament while Mumbai Indians will want to avoid another slow start.
The last time the two heavyweights of Indian Premier League met, Mumbai Indians defeated Chennai Super Kings in arguably one of the greatest matches in their rivalry. And yet, the situation surrounding the match and the league was so grim that it did not quite register the right notes.

In the days leading up to the suspension of IPL 2021 at the halfway stage, MI and CSK met in New Delhi in match No 27. The fact that the tournament was taking place amid the Covid-19 chaos in the national capital did not sit well, even if the authorities had insisted then that the show must go on. It took positive cases inside the bio-bubble in the days after for the tournament to be put on hold; nothing could budge the powers that be until that.

The Kieron Pollard special at the Arun Jaitley Stadium against the arch-rivals will go down in IPL history as one of the most breathtaking individual efforts, but it was indeed hard to focus on just the cricket for everyone concerned. Even the week leading up to the resumption has been filled with off-field drama in Indian cricket.

Kieron Pollard's 87* off 34 balls: A magical innings by Mumbai Indians' big-match player

But as IPL 2021 resumes in United Arab Emirates on Sunday, it is this rivalry that takes centerstage again. Perhaps fitting, for cricket to return to the limelight that IPL's most winning sides do battle.

In addition to what's at stake in the second half of IPL 2021, players will be getting

valuable experience in the UAE conditions ahead of the T20 World Cup while the Indian cricket board will be hoping its money-spinner stays away from anymore Covid-19 hiccups.

As the second wave of Covid-19 wreaked havoc in India in April-May, the water-tight IPL bio-bubble was also breached, forcing the suspension of the tournament after 29 games.

With too much at stake for all stakeholders including the players, teams and BCCI, there was little doubt over the completion of the world's biggest T20 competition. It was only about when the BCCI would squeeze in the IPL in an ever-pack global calendar.

After a few alterations in the franchise cricket and international calendar, the best possible window was found with the BCCI slotting in the tournament as the lead up to the T20 World Cup.

Last week, doubts over smooth conduct of the tournament resurfaced with the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Indian team's camp in England but fortunately for the organisers, the issue did not escalate and the available Indian and English players arrived here safely.

The entire IPL was held in the UAE last year with few hassles and the BCCI will be hoping for a similar experience this time around.

Fans, albeit a limited number, will also be present at an IPL venue for the first time since 2019.

Though the squads have already been announced for the World Cup, an IPL performance seldom gets unnoticed and there could be some players, including Indians, who make the squad in the 11th hour in case of injury with the ICC allowing changes until October 10, reported PTI.
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