The first fixture of this edition is set to be repeated as the Mumbai Indians take on the Chennai Super Kings. CSK won the last time these teams met in a game that went down to the wire. Since then, CSK and MI have occupied opposite ends of the points table as the former tops it while the latter is second last.
Mumbai have lost too many close games this season, and coach Jayawardene admitted the need for some “tough changes”. CSK already have a foot in the eliminators, bar a miracle. Will they further consolidate their position at the top, or will Mumbai cause a huge upset?
Rohit Sharma (c), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mustafizur Rahman, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar, Evin Lewis, Saurabh Tiwary, Ben Cutting, Pradeep Sangwan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Tajinder Singh, Sharad Lumba, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Mayank Markande, Akila Dananjaya, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, MD Nidheesh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne.
Chennai Super Kings
MS Dhoni (c), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willey.
Where the teams stand
Mumbai’s failure to chase down a paltry target of 119 symbolizes how severely the batsmen have led MI down this season. On a pitch highly unlike the usual Wankhede wicket, the ball was doing a bit, but not nearly enough to make Mumbai collapse for what they did. Suryakumar Yadav continues to be a lone ray of hope at the top with the rest struggling for form and consistency. Sharma promised a lot after his knock but has failed to deliver the goods. Jayawardene’s mention of taking tough calls inevitably means that the lineup is going to be tinkered with. Pollard will most likely find himself expendable while the Pandya brothers’ spots do not look particularly safe either. However, except Duminy, Mumbai do not have quality replacements for their players, and one wonders the merit of chopping and changing too much despite the state they are in.
The bowling attack is quite safe from any changes, given how well they have performed in the season so far. All their close finishes so far have been at the behest of the bowlers. They have consistently put oppositions under pressure regardless of the score they have to defend, and have come within touching distance of glory so many times. Mitch McClenaghan is perhaps the weakest link in the attack, but his knack for taking wickets will probably give him another game. Markande has been a revelation, while the Fizz has found his rhythm too. Mumbai’s bowlers almost snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat last time. Will they succeed in this round?
Fantasy Picks: The top four batsmen will again be the ones to watch out for. The uncertainty in their final 11 makes picking players a hazard. Markande, the Fizz, and Bumrah are also top picks, especially considering Chennai’s relatively ordinary bowling, but world class batting.
Chennai Super Kings
Chennai continues to dominate every match they play with the firepower in their batting. They have proved that they can never be counted out of the game, especially in a chase. Rayudu and Dhoni have been phenomenal, striking the ball cleanly while remaining calm under pressure. All the batsmen except du Plessis have chipped in with a big knock at some point so far, leaving everyone to be a threat with the bat. This makes it very hard for oppositions to plan their strategies; anyone can come in and take the game away from you.
Chennai’s bowling woes have largely been covered up by the brilliance of their batsmen. The attack has been leaky, conceding 200 runs on too many occasions and forcing their batsmen into tough chases. That they have managed and overcome so many of them is a testament to their quality as a side. Chahar has been inconsistent, swinging between being horrendous and exceptional. Jadeja largely continues to be selected for his fielding, while the rest might just turn up on their day or suffer an expensive night. The uncertainty surrounding CSK has strangely not affected their results in the slightest. If it works why bother.
Fantasy Picks: Take your pick from this batting lineup. Rayudu, Dhoni, Watson, and Raina are top picks, while Chahar is perhaps the only gamble from the bowling worth taking.
CSK win. Mumbai’s hapless run in the season so far has shown no evidence of concluding.
Can Mumbai end their struggles and win this clash? Let us know in the comments and poll below.