Mumbai v Chennai, IPL 2010, Mumbai March 24, 2010

Chennai anxious for turnaround against Mumbai

Match facts

Mumbai v Chennai, in Mumbai
Thursday, March 25
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big picture

The importance of momentum in the shortest format of the game cannot be over-emphasised, and the two teams that line up for match 21 of the IPL illustrate this in contrasting styles.

After finding a way past Yusuf Pathan in their opening game, Mumbai Indians have epitomised efficiency, be it in their in-form batting line-up, led by Sachin Tendulkar, or their star-studded bowling attack, which has achieved success by keeping things simple. Despite the slip-up against Royal Challengers Bangalore, the one team that has managed to look more complete than them in this tournament, Mumbai came back strongly to brush aside Kolkata Knight Riders with a concerted strategy to bowl in the block-hole, a script that was followed faithfully by everyone from Lasith Malinga to Harbhajan Singh. Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo have not made an impact with bat or ball, and that's not even been a cause for concern, showing how well the team has worked as a unit.

Contrast that with Chennai Super Kings, whose IPL campaign thus far has been a study in the art of flattering to deceive. MS Dhoni singlehandedly batted them to victory against Kolkata, but after turning in a clinical performance to out-punch Delhi Daredevils, Chennai have veered from the basics, failed to seize the crucial moments and lost their way.

If hare-brained batting in the end overs cost them the game against Kings XI Punjab, their bowlers' inability to maintain control in the death overs did them in against Bangalore. Nothing captures their current woes better than the way their most impressive suit - their catching - has fallen apart. While Chennai were spectacular in the field against Delhi, R Ashwin and Murali Vijay put down decisive sitters from Robin Uthappa on Tuesday. Add to the mix some questionable team decisions that have backfired - the inclusion of George Bailey, and the decision to use Ashwin in the slog overs - and you have a side that desperately needs its most influential player back.

Form guide (most recent first)

Mumbai WLWW
Chennai LLWWL

Team talk

If Dhoni makes it, he could not have timed his comeback better. Chennai's coach Stephen Fleming said that the team management was happy with his progress, and he seemed at ease during practice on Wednesday evening, but the final call will be taken on match day. If he's available, Parthiv Patel will relinquish the big gloves, and Murali Vijay could move up to open the innings. Bailey looked all at sea during his scratchy innings against Bangalore, and in Justin Kemp's continued absence, Thissara Perera could take his spot.

For the hosts, Sanath Jayasuriya could continue to sit out after an indifferent start to the tournament. "We want him to play explosive cricket. If he is not going to fulfill that role i don't think he is doing his job. We need to give him time and he has only played two games," Robin Singh, the Mumbai coach, assessed Jayasuriya's prospects.

Shikhar Dhawan looked impressive against Kolkata, in the absence of the injured Ambati Rayudu who is likely to miss out once again. Aditya Tare's dodgy showing behind the stumps is a minor source for worry, given that Mumbai don't have a replacement wicketkeeper in the squad.


Chennai 2 Mumbai 2

In 2008, Chennai drew first blood in this rivalry with Hayden's pyrotechnics just about outlasting Mumbai in the first encounter in Chennai. Mumbai had their revenge in the return match, winning by nine wickets, thanks to a Jayasuriya special. Mumbai prevailed again in the opening match of the 2009 edition, at Newlands, but Hayden returned the favour with a measured innings in Port Elizabeth, which all but knocked Mumbai out of the tournament.

In the spotlight

Muttiah Muralitharan has gone out of the way to emphasise that he has only looked to contain batsmen, but the purple cap on his head suggests he's also been attacking. Murali has always been a handful for left-handers, and of late, he has perfected the art of preying on right-hand batsmen with a nagging round-the-wicket line, making both the offspinner and the doosra potent weapons. Ask Mahela Jayawardene and Virat Kohli respectively. He has got the topspinner working well too, as Rahul Dravid found out on Tuesday. Murali's battle against Sachin Tendulkar could well emerge as the most important sub-plot in this match.

Barring one stupendous innings against Delhi, Matthew Hayden is yet to really impose himself on the opposition this year. He will be up against Harbhajan Singh tomorrow, another duel to watch out for, especially when he's batting with the Mongoose.

Prime numbers

  • Mumbai don't have a single bowler in the top 10 wicket-takers so far in the IPL. Harbhajan with four wickets is 14th on the list, while Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga have picked up three each.

  • With 28 fours, Sachin Tendulkar is second in the list of boundary-hitters, eight behind Jacques Kallis. Hayden, along with Uthappa, has hit the most sixes in the tournament - 11. Tendulkar has hit none.

  • With two fifties each in four innings, Tendulkar and Saurabh Tiwary are tied in second spot in the list of players with most 50-plus scores. Chennai's batsmen have between them managed only three 50-plus scores in five matches.

The chatter

"We wanted to use him as a batsman. In this format you hardly get on an average 25% of the balls through to the keeper. For the role we have given him we are happy with his performance."
Robin Singh, Mumbai's coach is not too concerned by Aditya Tare's wicketkeeping woes.

"We dropped two catches and also didn't bat well. I think, we have to relook at our batting line-up."
Stand-in captain Suresh Raina identifies one of Chennai's shortcomings in the loss to Bangalore.

Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at Cricinfo