New York have quite a star studded line up filled with both domestics and internationals. Steven Taylor, Shayan Jahangir, and Monank Patel will most likely be seen at the top. All 3 of the US internationals are very experienced and recently were part of the national team in the World Cup Qualifiers. This top 3 will really look to set a nice platform for Dewald Brevis and Nicholas Pooran, the two internationals who are most likely to bat in the middle order for New York. Brevis, still a young player, has impressed many in the numerous T20 leagues he's already played. Pooran, on the other hand, is much more experienced. A crucial part of the West Indies line up, Pooran has the ability to take the game away from oppositions in the middle and death overs with his power hitting skills. Down the order, Hammad Azam could join Kieron Pollard in the XI. Azam and Pollard are both pace bowling all rounders, while the latter is also the captain of the side. Nosthush Kenjige is another name who could feature in the XI. The spin bowling all rounder was also a part of the WC Qualifiers team for the US.
New York have one of the best bowling attacks of the entire tournament. In the pace bowling department, they've got both Trent Boult and Kagiso Rabada, 2 powerhouses at the international level. Boult has a knack of picking up early wickets in the powerplay and could well get 3 overs up front. Ehsan Adil and Jessy Singh are two of the domestic pacers in the MI squad. Adil has been doing well in various tournaments across the country, including MiLC, for the past year, while Jessy has represented the US on numerous occasions, including the WC Qualifiers. In the middle overs, New York have got the spin bowling abilities of both Rashid Khan and Sarabjit Ladda. Rashid is renowned as arguably the best T20 spin bowler worldwide, while Ladda is also extremely experienced. Having played in the IPL for a couple of seasons, he was able to master his variations against some of the best. In MiLC, Ladda stands as one of the leading wicket takers across seasons. Both Rashid and Ladda are able to confuse batsmen with their two main variations, the off break and the googly, making them quite threatening in the middle overs.
The Unicorns also have a solid side. Aaron Finch will be leading the side at the top of the batting order. Along with him, the Unicorns could opt for either Matthew Wade, Smit Patel, or David White. Smit and White are both US domestic players who have done well in MiLC. In fact, White was the 4th highest run scorer in the entire tournament last year. Smit, on the other hand, was actually part of India's winning U19 World Cup team back in 2012. SF also have some quality all rounders in their team. Marcus Stoinis, Corey Anderson, and Shadab Khan have all not only represented their country at the highest level, but have also been a part of many world cups. While Stoinis and Shadab continue to represent their nation, Anderson retired and moved to the US, where he continues to play the sport. The three all rounders are expected to find their way into the side and will play a huge roll in the success of the Unicorns, not only in this big opening game, but also the entire tournament. Stoinis is more likely to come in the middle order, while Anderson and Shadab will most probably slot in at 6 and 7 respectively.
With the ball in hand, like NY, SF have some fiery fast bowlers. Harris Rauf, Lungi Ngidi, and Liam Plunkett have all represented their country in world cups, with the latter having won the tournament back in 2019, before settling in the US. Carmi Le Roux is another domestic option that the Unicorns could go for in their opening encounter. With three of these four set to feature in the XI, the Unicorns will have the depth to give out extended spells in the powerplay, if a bowler is on song. This could really help the team get an early advantage and put NY on the back foot early, which they'll really want to do, having a look at the destructiveness of that batting line up. Joining Shadab Khan in the spin department, SF have the option fo either Chaitanya Bishnoi or Qais Ahmed. Ahmed has done well in many T20 leagues around the world, but Bishnoi is also a very handy spinner. With only six overseas players allowed in the XI, the Unicorns will most have to choose between Qais and Ngidi. If the latter is the final overseas in the side, then Bishnoi could make the team. Otherwise, Qais and Le Roux will be in the final selection.