Indian Premier League’s biggest rivalry is back as Mumbai Indians take on Chennai Super Kings in Sharjah on Friday. These two teams have often played out some of IPL’s biggest matches but never have they been so mismatched as it would be the case this time. While MI are one win away from getting back to the top of the table, CSK are desperately looking for a win to get off the bottom of the table and keep their chances of qualifying for the play-offs alive.
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The situation was completely different when these two sides locked horns in the opening match of the season, when Dhoni’s team broke the jinx of having lost 5 matches on the trot to Rohit Sharma’s team by winning in clinical fashion. Since then Mumbai have grown in confidence and have seen almost all its players contribute in what has been a highly successful season. Chennai though have struggled as most of their experienced players have failed to produce the form of the past and have won just 2 of the 9 matches since.
But the likes of Dhoni, Watson and Du Plessis will have to produce their best cricket to support the likes of Jadeja and Curran, who have been their brightest bulbs this season. Bravo’s injury could finally open the doors for Imran Tahir, who wizardry with the ball is needed against a stiff opposition like Mumbai.
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But Dhoni is known for being stubborn about his choices and that could again mean that last season’s purple cap winner might have to sit out again. His comments on youngsters not pushing the seniors enough after the loss in the last match hasn’t gone down with a lot of people and it will be interesting to see what kind of a team Dhoni goes in with.
Mumbai lost their last encounter to KXIP after a double super over, but the players are in top form across all departments and it won’t be surprising if they finish off CSK’s chances of qualification on Friday.
Quinton de Kock is in top form and the likes of Deepak Chahar and Josh Hazlewood will have their task cut out against the South African.
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The CSK spinners too will have to be on top of their game given the hot form Hardik Pandya and Keiron Pollard are in. But CSK’s biggest worry has been their batting and Mumbai’s excellent pace attack of Bumrah, Boult and Patterson could bring the out of form batsmen to their knees.
It’s Mumbai’s match to lose on current form, but CSK are not going to go down without a fight and what better than delaying qualification for your arch rivals by beating them at a crucial stage in the tournament.