Red hot Mumbai run into steady Super Kings
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
For the second year in a row, Mumbai Indians have started poorly - they lost their first four games in IPL 2015 - before hiking up their performances in time to make the playoffs. After winning only two of their first seven matches, they raised their game in the middle stages when forms of some other teams began to taper off.
They now run into Chennai Super Kings, the original 'slow-starters' of the IPL who eventually become an antithesis to that image. This year they reeled off six wins in seven games before winning only half as many in the next seven.
Super Kings, though, have had the wood on Mumbai in the post-league stages, with a 4-1 record, including a seven-wicket win at Brabourne Stadium last year. However, Super Kings haven't looked unbeatable; their patchy record in the latter half of the league phase bears testimony to it. One area they would look to remedy is their finishing with the bat; notwithstanding Pawan Negi's clean hitting lately, it's a gap that hasn't been plugged entirely. They would, however, derive confidence from having performed on the big stage several times in the past.
Mumbai, on the other hand, don't have to peer into the past too much, given how their form has progressively ebbed. They might not read too much into home-advantage, though, having won only four of their seven games at the Wankhede. Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma said his team approached their last league game, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, like the final. They would do well to carry on with the same mindset.
Chennai Super Kings WLWLW (last five matches, most recent first)
Mumbai Indians WWLWW
They have played each other 22 times with each side securing 11 wins apiece. In IPL 2015, too, they are squared on 1-1, with neither team winning their home game. Super Kings, backed by solid efforts from Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina, chased down 185 with 20 balls remaining in the Wankhede fixture, while Mumbai pulled off a heist in Chennai through Hardik Pandya's blitz.
In the spotlight
Michael Hussey has spent practically the entire season as a substitute supplying drinks and cheering his team-mates on. He hasn't had much game time, making only one run off four deliveries in his only match, against Kings XI Punjab. In the absence of McCullum, Super Kings' leading run-maker, Hussey will have to click pretty much immediately.
Lendl Simmons was Mumbai's highest run-scorer in IPL 2014, and is second on the list this time around, trailing his captain by six runs. His contribution to Mumbai's batting solidity has been remarkable not just for the unobtrusive manner in which he has racked up the runs. Did we mention his gravity-defying catches?
Alex Hales joined the Mumbai squad ahead of the Sunrisers game, but Mumbai might be unwilling to tinker with a settled team.
Mumbai Indians (probable): 1 Lendl Simmons 2 Parthiv Patel (wk) 3 Rohit Sharma (capt) 4 Ambati Rayudu 5 Kieron Pollard 6 Hardik Pandya 7 Harbhajan Singh 8 J Suchith 9 Mitchell McClenaghan 10 Vinay Kumar 11 Lasith Malinga
With McCullum leaving for England on international duty, Hussey is the obvious choice to replace him.
Chennai Super Kings (probable): 1 Dwayne Smith 2 Michael Hussey 3 Suresh Raina 4 Faf du Plessis 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk) 6 Pawan Negi 7 Dwayne Bravo 8 Ravindra Jadeja 9 R Ashwin 10 Ashish Nehra 11 Mohit Sharma/Ishwar Pandey
Pitch and conditions
The Wankhede wicket has been loaded heavily in favour of the batsmen this season, with scores in excess of 170 achieved eight times. The weather is expected to be humid with no threat of rain.
Stats and trivia
- Mumbai have lost their last two games against Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. They had won 4 straight games before that
- Dwayne Bravo has taken more IPL wickets (18) against Mumbai than any other bowler. Interestingly, he has also taken five wickets for Mumbai against Super Kings, making his 23 wickets in Mumbai-Super Kings encounters the most by any bowler
- Four fielders have taken 50-plus catches in the IPL, two from Super Kings (Raina and Bravo) and two from Mumbai (Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma)
"We have finished one tournament and enter into a fresh tournament now. If we play to our potential this is what we can do."
Rohit Sharma on the exciting possibilities that Mumbai Indians are faced with.
"It's different because we always scrape through to the playoffs but we have always been consistent. Now we have had an easier road in and there is a huge difference."
Faf du Plessis feels Super Kings are at a happy place having finished on top of the points table.
Arun Venugopal is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo