The second match of the playoffs takes place tonight in Bangalore as the Mumbai Indians take on the Chennai Super Kings. The two teams finished third and fourth in the round-robin stage of the tournament and now face each other in a must win match. The winner of this encounter will meet Delhi Daredevils in Chennai for the second qualifier while the loser will have to pack up their bags and leave.
Mumbai Indians are a star-studded team and probably the strongest team in the IPL on paper, but they haven’t been able to get their team composition correct and play to their full potential. They had mixed results in the round-robin stage, winning 10 matches. Their batting and bowling unit has some of the biggest names in the field and has a mixture of youth and experience. How they will go today, will depend a lot on how their skipper, Harbhajan Singh goes.
Chennai Super Kings
The most inconsistent of the IPL teams to have made it to the playoffs. They made it by the skin of their teeth after more than a couple of results went their way in the last few group stage matches. The defending champs also boast of a strong lineup and will be looking to finally strike gold. MS Dhoni and his team have been here not once, but thrice before, and know the pressure that it brings. That experience will certainly help and it is to be seen if they will be able to raise their game at the big occasion.
Head to Head:
The two teams have met 10 times in the IPL and Mumbai Indians lead with 6 wins. Mumbai have won the last two encounters against Chennai this season and definitely hold a edge here.
Players to watch out for:
The star Indian batsman hasn’t had the best of seasons, thanks to injuries. However, he did show his brilliance in Mumbai’s last match against Rajasthan and will be keen on making a mark for Mumbai at the top tonight with the bat. He has always been a big stage player and tonight just might be his time to shine.
The slinger is made for limited overs cricket, especially T20, where his fast yorkers wreck havoc. He has been Mumbai’s strike bowler and also the person Harbhajan has relied on at the slog overs to keep things tight. He is Mumbai’s leading wicket taker and Mumbai’s fortunes tonight rest heavily on his shoulders.
The talented, young Indian batsman has been one of the big stars for Mumbai in the middle order. He managed to score a century in this edition of the IPL and has played some stellar knocks. Mumbai will be hoping for one more such innings from his bat tonight.
Chennai Super Kings
The tall off-spinner has always been a very vital member of the CSK team. So far this year, his contribution with the ball has been lacking, but that very well can change tonight. He would be keen on making his mark and the big occasion might just be the catalyst he needs. He destroyed RCB in the finals last year, getting Gayle out in his very first over and will be hoping for a repeat with Sachin this time.
The Australian pace bowler has been a match winner for CSK in the few matches he has played. He has genuine pace and the ability to swing the ball and Chennai have relied on him to get the vital wickets early on in the innings. With Mumbai boasting a very strong batting line up, the importance of Hilfenhaus becomes even more and his ability to strike early will be crucial for CSK tonight.
CSK have relied heavily on the West Indian all-rounder. He has always stepped up when Chennai’s batting or bowling has failed and has been one of the more consistent performers in the side. With his big hitting down the order, the Mumbai bowlers will be wary of him, as will the batsmen of his nagging medium pace deliveries in the middle overs. Added to this, he is a live wire in the field.
Going by recent form and also the strength that Mumbai have in their batting puts them as clear favorites to win this contest. However, with the match being a must win encounter for both sides, the team that holds its nerves at the key moments will win, and CSK have certainly the distinct edge there as they have shown us in the past seasons. Whatever the case, it promises to be riveting contest.
Predicted Winner: Mumbai Indians