The stage is set for the first qualifier. After 56 high intense games, we are all set for the remaining four crucial games. The significant first qualifier will be duly played by the most consistent teams in IPL history. Firstly there are the men in yellow from Chennai, who are addicted to winning. On the other hand, there would be the Mumbai Indians, the side which has redefined the meaning of the term resilience. All in all, a fascinating contest awaits us.
The Super Kings played their usual game and were ruthless throughout the campaign. It was no surprise that the men in yellow topped the points table. On a contrasting note, the Mumbai Indians began their campaign on a horrible note with four straight losses.
Since then, they have scripted a memorable turnaround. Led by the aggressive and tactful Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai Indians have found their way back in style. Senior players such as Rayudu, Harbhajan and Malinga have shouldered the responsibilities well and made this IPL a success story for the Mumbai Indians. It would be true to assert that at their fortress, the Mumbai Indians begin as the favourites against the Super Kings.
CLASHES THIS SEASON:
The two heavyweights of the IPL first clashed on the 17th of April at the Wankhede Stadium. The hosts batted first and were jolted early by the strikes of Ashish Nehra. They were reeling at 57-4 in 9.3 overs. From then on, Keiron Pollard and skipper Rohit Sharma turned the game on its head. The Mumbai Indians ended up with 183 on board as Pollard played a blinder of 64 off 30. Sharma supported well with a fine half century.
The Super Kings, though, did not even break a sweat while chasing the target. McCullum and Smith got the Super Kings off to an unbelievable start. Sixes and fours were the only ways of scoring for the duo. The first wicket fell when the score was 109-2 in 7.2 overs. The rest of the game was a mere formality as the Super Kings won with 20 balls to spare.
The second game between them was played in Chepauk on the 8th of May. The Super Kings batted first and got to a respectable total of 158, thanks to some late strikes by Pawan Negi. Mumbai began in style and were motoring along without any issues. Chennai finally struck when the score was 84-1 in 10.1 overs. R. Ashwin struck twice in his final over to turn the game around. Pollard’s run out was another dent for Mumbai. Jadeja and Negi choked the visitors and their canny left arm spin was tough to counter. The visitors found a new hero in Hardik Pandya, who smashed Negi for three sixes in the second last over. Rayudu joined the fun as well and in all, poor Negi was hit for four maximums in the penultimate over. With just five needed of the last over, the Mumbai Indians won the game with 4 balls to spare.
This Trinidadian has often been a thorn in the flesh for the Chennai Super Kings. His record against the men in yellow is simply too hard to ignore. In this season as well, he tormented the Super Kings at the Wankhede. He smashed Ravindra Jadeja 26 runs in an over back then. With the venue being the same, a lot of expectations will be pinned upon Pollard. His sly bowling is another advantage.
Harbhajan Singh in this season of the IPL has been the unsung hero for the Mumbai Indians. He surely hasn’t got the due credit which he deserves. He has controlled the scoring and taken wickets at significant junctures. His overall record against the Super Kings is great as well. With Malinga and McClaneghan responsible to do well in the beginning and in the end, it will be Bhajji’s responsibility to consolidate in the middle overs.
By Raina’s own standards, this has been a very poor IPL for him. Raina would want to make amends for that and there is no better stage than the playoffs to do that. Raina has an exceptional record in IPL playoffs and has two scores in excess of 75 in playoff games that are played at the Wankhede. A third superb innings might well be on its way.
Like Harbhajan, Ashwin has been the star for the Super Kings. Ashwin has loved the responsibility of attacking with his slow bowling. The tall offie has been successful in inviting the batsmen for the big hits and then stunning them. Ashwin has looked better than ever with the ball and his role will be crucial for the Super Kings.
They will retain the same winning XI.
1. L. Simmons 2. P. Patel 3. R. Sharma 4. A. Rayudu 5. K. Pollard 6. H. Pandya 7. H. Singh 8. J. Suchith 9. L. Malinga 10. R. Vinaykumar 11. M. McClaneghan
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS:
For the Super Kings, McCullum will be out as he leaves for national duty. That will be a major blow. Dwayne Smith will be back and will replace him after missing the game against the Kings XI.
1. M. Hussey 2. D. Smith 3. S. Raina 4. F. Du Plessis 5. MS Dhoni 6. D. Bravo 7. R. Jadeja 8. P. Negi 9. R. Ashwin 10. M. Sharma 11. A. Nehra