Mumbai under pressure to stay in the race
May 16, 2009
Start time 12.30 (10.30 GMT, 16.00 IST)
The task of qualifying for the semi-finals has gotten tougher for Mumbai Indians, who will have to raise their game considerably to beat the top two ranked teams, Chennai Super Kings tomorrow and Delhi Daredevils. They were within touching distance of beating Rajasthan Royals on Thursday but blew it in the final over, recalling images of a very similar scenario last year when they bowed out of the semi-finals race.
The result of today's game between Delhi and Kings XI Punjab will not affect Chennai's standing at No.2. They looked set for a certain semi-final spot but slipped up against Royal Challengers Bangalore. If they lose to Mumbai, they will have to win their last two games to make it comfortably to the semi-finals.
Chennai were exposed in the opening game of the tournament, against the same opposition but have since then regrouped and discovered a winning combination. Mumbai peaked early but lost the plot in the middle stages and are still struggling to piece together a winning line-up.
Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)
Mumbai Indians: LWWLL
Inconsistency in the batting has been their bane, and the way their seniors struggled to push the scoring in the first half of their chase against Rajasthan highlighted that issue. They tinkered with their opening combination yet again, sending Dwayne Bravo and Yogesh Takawale, lost three wickets for 23 runs and managed only two boundaries inside the first ten overs. They will also need to utilise Abhishek Nayar better by letting him spend more time at the crease. On the positive side, their spinners delivered against Punjab and turned in a decent performance against Rajasthan.
Chennai Super Kings: LWWWW
Matthew Hayden's been at the forefront of Chennai's domination with 486 runs at a strike rate of 152. The top order has carried Chennai but the middle order hasn't delivered consistently. In their first match against Delhi, they lost seven wickets for 41, and in their most recent defeat against Bangalore, they lost seven for 28. Another area which needs improvement is the catching and the captain MS Dhoni has reiterated this in post-match presentations. Despite these shortcomings, they are the form team in the tournament after Delhi.
Watch out for
Abhishek Nayar: Had the national selectors decided to experiment with a new face for the World Twenty20 squad, Nayar could well have got the nod. The left-hander from Mumbai reminded everybody of his prowess as a Twenty20 batsman on Thursday when he smashed 35 off 18 balls to give Rajasthan a scare. His trademark shot is the heave over the on side.
Mumbai's overseas players will pick themselves but there may be room for some changes as far as the rest are concerned. A fit Zaheer Khan will walk in, possibly at the expense of Dhawal Kulkarni.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Dwayne Bravo, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Abhishek Nayar, 7 Harbhajan Singh, 8 Chetanya Nanda, 9 Yogesh Takawale (wk), 10 Dhawal Kulkarni/Zaheer Khan, 11 Lasith Malinga.
Dhoni has made it clear that the overseas players will retain their places, which means no room for Makhaya Ntini. Expect Chennai to stick to the same line-up which has served them well over the last few games, the previous defeat notwithstanding.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Matthew Hayden, 2 M Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Albie Morkel, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Sudeep Tyagi, 9 Shadab Jakati, 10 L Balaji, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan
Stats and trivia
The first meeting between these two sides was a very high-scoring encounter in Chennai. Chasing 209, Mumbai fell short by six runs and the man who nearly took them home was Nayar. Mumbai had their revenge in the return match, winning by nine wickets, thanks to Jayasuriya's blistering hundred. They met in the opening match of this edition at Newlands with Mumbai winning by 19 runs.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo