IPL 2019: Three-time champs CSK, MI to battle for points

Mumbai Indians will look to unsettle Chennai Super Kings to get closer to the playoffs in the high-octane clash at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.

Even after 11 years, Dhoni remains CSK's best player - striking the ball at 137.11 in this IPL.   -  K.Murali Kumar

As the Mumbai Indians team bus entered the stadium premises on the eve of the high-octane clash against Chennai Super Kings, a group of spectators had gathered to welcome their heroes. You read that right. People in this part of the country respect the fact that Mumbai is also a three-time Indian Premier League champion.

A MI-CSK clash is always worth the expensive tickets. It’s a game of nerves. And now that the ICC Cricket World Cup noise has just begun, this fixture will test the mindset of the big guns.

Six World Cup-bound India players will be part of the fixture at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.

Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma has not been able to convert his starts. Being a big-match player, this could be his game. All-rounder Hardik Pandya seems fine with his newly-acquired helicopter shot and decent spells with the ball. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has been economically tight.

Even after 11 years, CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni remains the best player for the yellow army. He has been striking the ball at 137.11 in this IPL.

Kedar Jadhav will be hungry to make an impact; except an exhausting 58 against MI in the away fixture, he didn’t really live up to the ‘utility cricketer’ tag.

Left-arm spin bowler Ravindra Jadeja has chipped in occasionally with a couple of wickets here and there, but he is yet to showcase his all-round abilities.

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Training session

MI regrouped after a four-day break. World Cup-bound players and a few key members of the squad were released to recharge batteries before heading into the final leg of the high-pressure league.

The players returned and picked up from where they left. The MI side had an intense training session that involved a lot of running and fielding. The bat and ball came much later.

MI is unlikely to tinker with the combination it had against the Rajasthan Royals. It will be wise to play both the leggies, Rahul Chahar and Mayank Markande, on the spin-friendly Chepauk strip.

Rahul will also unite with his cousin, Deepak Chahar, who is CSK’s go-to paceman in the league.

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Coming on the back of a comfortable win against Sunrisers Hyderabad, CSK looked relaxed at the nets, taking turns to bat and bowl.

Having booked a virtual playoffs-berth, CSK can perhaps try out Dhruv Shorey in place of Ambati Rayudu, who has been off-colour.

Harbhajan Singh, who claimed crucial wickets including that of Jonny Bairstow in his first over in the last fixture, is likely to retain his spot.

Overseas stars

Shane Watson’s return to form is not a good sign for MI. The former Australia cricketer, who now plays solely as a batsman, fired a 53-ball 96 the other night against Sunrisers. Faf du Plessis missed out on a big score but he has been in good touch.

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South Africa vice-captain Quinton de Kock has been a brute force for MI at the top of the order. His wicket should be on CSK’s priority list. Not to forget the experience and just the presence of Lasith Malinga in the side.

MI has replaced Alzarri Joseph with Beuran Hendricks, who arrived on Thursday night. He is unlikely to feature in this game.

 

Records and head-to-head

Matches 27: MI (15), CSK (12)

IPL champions: CSK (2010, 2011 and 2018), MI (2013, 2015, 2017) 

In Chennai

MI has a good record against CSK at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. It is the only side to have beaten CSK in its last 18 games at home. In 2013, MI beat CSK by 9 runs. In 2015, MI beat CSK by six wickets.This is their first clash here since 2015.

 

"Mumbai has great depth in its batting. They are respected highly, particularly dangerous at the back end of the innings with players like Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya. I thought the pitch played very well in the last game. Not sure what a good score was but the batsmen hit through the line of the ball and hit straight sixes."

– Michael Hussey, batting coach, Chennai Super Kings

"We know the type of player Rohit Sharma is and the calibre that he has. He is not short of coming up with a big one in the games to come. There will be a big push to get to the playoffs."

– Beuran Hendricks, bowler, Mumbai Indians

 

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