CSK-MI in high voltage clash

Defending champions Mumbai face stiff challenge from Chennai in Eliminator

CSK-MI in high voltage clash

The resounding thwacks of batsmen sending the ball into the concrete paved stands were frequently disturbing the highborn atmosphere of Cricket Club of India on a humid Tuesday evening.

It was an ominous sign of how the Qualifier 2 between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings may pan out on Wednesday at the Brabourne Stadium – batsmen holding complete sway over bowlers. Both Mumbai and Chennai have a clutch of big-hitters who can make a mockery of any target, which some other teams would find improbable.

The Super Kings will also be buoyed by the return of Brendon McCullum, who had returned to New Zealand for the birth of his child. Now that McCullum has returned Chennai would hope for another brisk start from the Kiwi and his partner Dwayne Smith.

The two-time IPL champions are not just a top-heavy side — their batting strength is equally distributed through the line-up. Usually a powerful presence in the IPL, Suresh Raina has not set the seventh edition of the league ablaze but of late, he has shown signs of getting back to the peak, and Ravindra Jadeja too can turn it on on his day.

Then there’s the ever-reliable Faf Du Plessis, who can play the twin role of absorber and enforcer with equal felicity, and the addition of David Hussey has meant the Super Kings have not massively missed the injured Dwayne Bravo, who was ruled out of the IPL VII. Of course, there is the calm presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni guiding them.

In the earlier rounds of the IPL this year, Dhoni was not required to finish a game off, resulting in reduced game time for the Jharkhand man. But Dhoni promoted himself to number four in the last league match against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, and he showed the real impact he could have on a match with a fluent innings.

Mumbai are not too far behind Chennai in batting might. The defending champions recovered from a disastrous start – a phase when they lost all the five matches at UAE – to enter the Play-offs. The victory against Rajasthan Royals that sealed their Play-off place was nothing short of remarkable.

Mumbai scaled down a huge total, riding on the brazen innings of Corey Anderson, who till that night had failed to justify his high price tag. More than the innings of Anderson, the opponents of Mumbai would be wary of the fact that the win against Royals came without any serious contributions from Lendl Simmons, Aditya Tare, Kieron Pollard and Mike Hussey.

Pollard and Hussey haven’t been at their consistent best this season, and they might just be hoping to turn it around.

Simmons had an off day against Royals, but the powerful West Indian have done quite well for Mumbai at the totem pole position this season, while Tare too is quite capable of wrecking the bowlers, and they will be eager to bat on the placid Brabourne pitch surrounded by short boundaries. Just like Wankhede, this stadium is also a stronghold of Mumbai as they have won six out of seven matches played here thus far.

However, the Super Kings hold a slight advantage in the bowling department. They have the services of wily R Ashwin, pacer Mohit Sharma, who is in race for the Purple Cap with Kolkata’s Sunil Narine, and useful spinners in Raina and Jadeja.

On the face of it, there is hardly anything that separates these two teams and it all boils down to how effectively they source their talent and desire.

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