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IPL 2014: Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians - Eliminator Preview

About a week ago, any rational person would have foreseen the Chennai Super Kings take the second spot on the table and the Mumbai Indians take no part in the playoffs. But as we’ve seen over the years, sometimes the IPL is not the place for reason, logic or rationale. A series of preposterous events has catapulted the Mumbai Indians to a playoff spot and the Kolkata Knight Riders to the second place on the table.

In the small IPL history thus far, MI and CSK have turned out to be biggest rivals in the league. The staunch rivalry between them certainly makes for great passion and rift among their fan bases. The fact that these two teams face off against each other in the eliminator makes it all the more fascinating.

The late surge

As the Mumbai Indians slipped and stumbled their way through the UAE leg of the tournament, their campaign looked like it was all but over. Nothing was going right for them and their batting order was a mystery. However, towards the fag end of the regular season they found some stability in their batting order (read: Lendl Simmons and Mike Hussey) and the results followed.

A brilliant late surge has ensured that their season is not yet over. In fact, it’s far from it. Seven wins in the last nine games and four on the bounce didn’t seem enough to get them through to the playoffs until they literally bullied their way through in the last game. MI have certainly kept the momentum going throughout the Indian leg of the tournament. They would want to sustain this momentum going into the eliminator. They simply cannot afford to slip and stumble now.

After trying out many opening combinations, Hussey and Simmons have finally given MI some stability at the top

The reality check

Unlike the Mumbai Indians, CSK booked their place in the playoffs way in advance. Contrary to how they have fared in most previous seasons of the IPL, this time around CSK performed splendidly in the first half and lost their way a bit in the end. The three losses on the trot after a six game winning streak brought about a reality check.

CSK lost their second spot thanks to Yusuf Pathan’s supernatural hitting and some indifferent cricket at the end. However, it is unlikely that this will deter a team like CSK. The positive is that they ended the season more like themselves, with a comfortable win over RCB.

Been there, done that

CSK have an impeccable record in the knock out stages. Having qualified for the semifinals/playoffs every single season and made it to all the finals except one, CSK certainly know how to handle the pressure of a knock out game. No one holds their composure in crunch situations better than MS Dhoni and his men.

How many sporting teams in the world can boast of a record like that?

The men in yellow have an incredible playoff record

Nothing separates the two teams

The Mumbai Indians have a better head to head record at 9-8. But, the Chennai Super Kings have got the better of MI twice this season and also have a better playoff head to head record at 3-1. This just goes on to substantiate their formidability in the knock out stages.

But CSK’s incredible playoff record might just count for nothing. It all comes down to that fateful day. Both the teams are packed with match-winners who are capable of producing knocks like the one Corey Anderson produced the other day.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing that separates these two teams. Any attempt to try and find something that favours one team might just be futile because there will be something else that favours the other.

Probable playing 11s:

One thing is for sure, there will not be a lot of chopping and changing in both the teams. Why would you want to change a winning combination after all? Having said that, in all likelihood, CSK will make a change to fit in Brendon McCullum who is back after the birth of his third child.

Chennai Super Kings – MS Dhoni (c & wk), Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina, Francois du Plessis, Ravindra Jadeja, Mithun Manhas, Ravichandran Ashwin, Samuel Badree/Ben Hilfenhaus, Mohit Sharma, Ashish Nehra.

Mumbai Indians – Rohit Sharma (c), Lendl Simmons, Michael Hussey, Ambati Rayudu, Corey Anderson, Kieron Pollard, Aditya Tare, Harbhajan Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Pragyan Ojha, Jasprit Bumrah.

I will not be making a prediction of the result of the match because the only criterion that would go into making the prediction would be towards which side my loyalties lie. Both the teams are equally strong and as I said earlier, there is absolutely nothing separating these two teams.

A no contest is out of the question. This game guarantees drama and emotion among the players and fans alike. We will just have to wait and see which group of fans obtains the bragging rights at the end of this game.

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