On September 19, Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) met in the IPL 2020 tournament opener at Abu Dhabi, a much-awaited contest following the lengthy delay to the start of the event in the wake of COVID-19.
While Mumbai are well on their way to securing a play-offs berth with 12 points from nine games, only a mathematical miracle can ensure CSK keep their record of having never failed to make the play-offs. Having gathered only six points from 10 matches, CSK's tournament seems well and truly off-track.
In the intense rivalry between MI and CSK, the defending champions enjoy a healthy 18-13 lead. As another chapter is set to be added to the same at Sharjah in match 41, here are three player battles that can make a difference.
#1. Quinton de Kock vs Deepak Chahar
After a slow start to IPL 2020, Mumbai Indians opener Quinton de Kock has come into his own. After nine matches, de Kock's figures make for extremely impressive reading. He has 322 runs to his name at a strike rate of 146.36, and has crossed the fifty mark four times.
With MI skipper Rohit Sharma having an inconsistent run at the top of the order, de Kock has taken it upon himself to get the team off to flying starts. He goes into this game having registered a hat-trick of fifty plus scores, and will look to carry on in the same vein.
For CSK, their pacer Deepak Chahar has been among the few bright spots. He has kept things extremely tight at the start of the innings to give his team a chance to compete. Chahar’s accuracy has been unwavering at best times, and he also has been rewarded for the same.
After 10 games for CSK, Chahar has 10 wickets to his name at a strike rate of 22.80 and an economy of just over 7. His tussle with de Kock at the top of the innings could very well set the tone of the match, depending on which way it goes
#2. Faf du Plessis vs Jasprit Bumrah
After an exceptional first half, in which he notched up three fifties in five matches, former South African captain Faf du Plessis' form has tapered off. Du Plessis’ last five scores for CSK read 17, 8, 0, 58, and 10, although he showed glimpses of his earlier form during his half-century against Delhi Capitals.
Against MI, he should be confident of putting up a good show as he began the tournament with an impressive unbeaten fifty against the same attack. If CSK harbor faint hopes of making the play-offs, they will need du Plessis among the runs.
At the top of the innings, du Plessis will come face-to-face with Mumbai’s pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah. While du Plessis shone at the start of the tournament, with the opposite has been true with Bumrah. He looked a bit rusty in the first few games of IPL 2020, but has come into his own once he found his rhythm.
Bumrah bowled a brilliant Super Over against Kings XI Punjab, getting his yorkers right, only to be outdone by a sensational over from Mohammed Shami. He dismissed the KXIP top guns KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Nicholas Pooran in the match, so his confidence should be high when he takes on du Plessis.
#3. Rahul Chahar vs Ambati Rayudu
T20 games are often won and lost in the middle overs. IPL 2020 also has seen numerous instances of teams being unable to accelerate in the middle overs. CSK, in particular, have suffered owing to their inability to up the ante during this period. That’s why the contest between Ambati Rayudu and leg-spinner Rahul Chahar becomes all the more crucial for CSK against MI.
While Rayudu has been among the runs for CSK, his pace of scoring hasn’t always been up to the mark, except during the match against Delhi when he blasted an unbeaten 45 from 25.
Against MI, Rayudu will need to attack Chahar. But, it is a task easier said than done as the leg-spinner is a smart operator. He has successfully enticed many a batsman into playing false strokes. Chahar’s numbers in IPL 2020 reflect his potency.
In nine games, he has claimed 11 wickets at a strike rate of 17.45 and an economy of 7.40. In his two most recent outings, he has excelled with figures of 2 for 18 (vs KKR) and 2 for 33 (vs KXIP). He should be confident of giving a tough fight to Rayudu.Published 23 Oct 2020, 15:18 IST