Chennai brimming with in-form players
April 6, 2013
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings flagged off IPL 2012 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Two strong sides played out a tepid match, with Mumbai trouncing the hosts. Mumbai's opening game of this edition didn't quite go to plan, losing narrowly to Royal Challengers Bangalore in a game that see-sawed in the final stages. With the asking rate climbing during Mumbai's chase, Royal Challengers appeared to have the match in control, but Dinesh Karthik's three consecutive sixes eased the equation considerably. Though Karthik failed to see the side through, Mumbai would have been better served if Karthik had more support.
Not for the first time, Kieron Pollard walked in later than he should have (he got to face only two deliveries). For the past few seasons, fans have pushed for a promotion in the batting order and never understood Mumbai's conservative approach to Pollard. Perhaps there is a good reason for that strategy, but it is hard to fathom. Had he been set, the result could have been different. Despite the defeat, Mumbai needn't tinker with their line-up. Lasith Malinga missed the game due to injury, but he will be forced to sit out the second match, fit or not, since the game's in Chennai.
Super Kings haven't always been the strongest starters. Given the form of their protagonists from the Australia Tests - MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and M Vijay - it's hard to imagine the side stuttering. The ban on Sri Lanka players affects them the least, given they have only two such players in their line-up, who aren't automatic picks. Chennai are without Faf du Plessis for at least the first month due to injury, while two other South Africans, Albie Morkel and Chris Morris join the team after the South African domestic T20 competition ends on April 7. .
Players to watch
After being smacked for three fours off his first four balls, Jasprit Bumrah's selection was starting to look farcical for Mumbai Indians. Bumrah scripted a remarkable turnaround, picking up three wickets on IPL debut. His unusual high-arm action makes him worth watching, and his performance should guarantee at least another game. He bowls from wide of the crease and generates a sharp angle into the right-handers, which fetched him two of his three wickets.
Ravindra Jadeja has in recent times been the butt of jokes on social media networks for failing to justify his two-million-dollar price tag. While Jadeja may have underachieved as a batsman for India, respect for him should have grown following the Australia Tests in which he picked up 24 wickets, second behind Ashwin (29).
Mumbai won the opening game by eight wickets, chasing down a paltry 113. The second match, at Wankhede Stadium, was a nailbiter, with Dwayne Smith playing a blinder for Mumbai with 16 needed off the final over. Smith smashed three boundaries off the last three balls to steal a two-wicket win for Mumbai. Super Kings hit back in the Elimination final, winning by 38 runs in Bangalore.
Stats and trivia
- Mumbai lead the head-to-head with seven wins against Super Kings, out of 13 games.
- Suresh Raina was the leading run-scorer for Super Kings last season with 441 runs in 19 games.
- Sachin Tendulkar is the top-scorer in matches between the two sides, with 353 runs at an average of 44.12 from 10 innings.
"The focus is on a few star players, both Indian and foreign, but there are others too who have contributed immensely. Take Badrinath for instance. He might not be a big hitter but has come up with several important performances for the team."
MS Dhoni, the Super Kings captain
"It was the first time that I played in front of such huge crowd but I wasn't paying any attention to the crowd. The more you focus on the inside, the better it is."
Jasprit Bumrah on his first taste of the IPL.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo