IPL Qualifier 1: Super Kings, Mumbai back to playoffs drill

On paper, it’s advantage Mumbai Indians — up 2-0 in IPL 2019 — but it’s Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk amid a sea of yellow in the stands. Forget the math and switch on the emotions.

Chennai Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings will be looking to extend its number of playoff wins against Mumbai Indians to five.   -  AP

Mindset is perhaps the biggest challenge in the IPL. Most players want to sharpen that skill set by playing in the league. In cut-throat contests, the venue holds supreme importance and Chennai Super Kings did its calculations right to return home for the Qualifier 1 against Mumbai Indians on Tuesday.

A victory against Kings XI Punjab would have ensured direct entry into the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium for the playoffs, but the Super Kings stretched the former’s chase of 171 till the 18th over — the cut off being 14.2 overs or more to clinch the second spot — in Sunday’s game; thereby, earning the ticket to its fortress.

Table-topper Mumbai has been a complete package in IPL 2019 with players contributing in every department. It beat the Super Kings twice in the season; including a 46-run thrashing at Chepauk. But skipper M.S. Dhoni is aware that if the yellow army needs to play to its strength, familiar conditions help.

 

- Looking at the batsmen -

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's composure in the final stages of the game has been phenomenal this season.   -  AP

 

The Super Kings batting department lacked firepower in this season. Consistency was limited to one or two players and a good start looked like rocket science. If Faf du Plessis scores 96, Shane Watson falls for 7 and if it’s the reverse, Faf barely gets to 1. The South African, however, has performed slightly better [314 runs at an average of 39.25] than the Aussie [258 runs at an average of 18.42] individually.

Suresh Raina has scored in flashes. The consecutive fifties in the last two games should hold him in good shape for the crucial fixture. Ambati Rayudu has been a disappointment and he will be hungry to prove a point or two.

Dhoni has led the batting group with 368 runs at a mammoth average of 122.66.

READ | Women's T20 challenge: Jhulan Goswami denies Supernovas' Harmanpreet in last-over thriller

Mumbai’s story has been a stark contrast. Quinton de Kock [492 runs] has been swinging his blade like a sword. The hook has been a delight to watch. He has been well-supported by skipper Rohit Sharma [386] who had a late bloom in the tournament.

Hitting sixes [29] at will, Hardik Pandya has taken his hand-and-eye coordination to a different level. The power-hitter also registered the fastest fifty of the season in 17 balls. Mumbai needs to promote him up the order; a potential No 4, right after Suryakumar Yadav at No 3 if Evin Lewis remains sidelined.

 

- The bowlers -

Jasprit Bumrah returned with two wickets for 31 runs against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and a fantastic Super Over spell, to take MI through to the playoffs.   -  PTI

 

The Mumbai seamers have kept the batsmen on a tight leash. World No 1 ODI bowler Jasprit Bumrah never runs out of gas. The Super Over composure against Sunrisers Hyderabad underlined his strengths.

Seasoned campaigner Lasith Malinga may have cut down on pace but the variations and the change of pace has fetched him wickets. He has also been trying to create an angle for right-handers by coming round the wicket; the Andre Russell dismissal being a reference point.

“He has been trying to create a different angle because a lot of batsmen has been getting used to him. This is something he has been practising and he felt good. You have to evolve in modern-day cricket even if you have been a great. It was nice to see Malinga opening up to the idea and getting rewards. It is just an option for him to use whenever he feels he needs to,” Mumbai coach Mahela Jayawardene praised the pacer’s willingness to experiment.

ALSO READ | Chennai Super Kings, Jadeja eye 100

The Super Kings have relied mostly on their spinners led by Imran Tahir [21 wickets], Ravindra Jadeja [13] and Harbhajan Singh [13]. Deepak Chahar has fought a lone battle in the pace department so far claiming 16 wickets.

 

- Injury concerns -

Leg-spinner Karn Sharma could be the one to replace injured Kedhar Jadhav.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

Kedar Jadhav, who has been struggling for form, injured his left shoulder while fielding against Kings XI. Keeping the World Cup in mind, he has been ruled out of the remaining games.

“Jadhav's getting an x-ray and a scan on Monday. I don't think we'll see him again in this tournament for us. He's in some discomfort. Fingers crossed that it is nothing too serious but it didn't look that good,” Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming had confirmed the development.

 

- Possible changes -

Jadhav’s injury has opened a slot. Dhruv Shorey or Murali Vijay are the first names that comes to mind but Karn Sharma could be a surprise inclusion. The leggie can bat and has a decent record in the playoffs — seven wickets in five games.

Sharma also has a unique record under his belt.

ALSO READ | M. S. Dhoni happy with CSK's bowling performance

He was part of the victorious Sunrisers side in 2016, Mumbai in 2017 and the Super Kings in 2018.

The host may also consider New Zealand all-rounder Mitchell Santner. The slow left-arm spin bowler had troubled the Mumbai batsmen in the previous meeting. He returned with handsome figures of 2/13.

 

- Fatigue and recovery -

Mumbai Indians will look to pick up its fourth playoff win against Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday.   -  IPL

 

Super Kings skipper Dhoni flew to Ranchi for a few hours to cast his vote in the elections and the side did not train on Monday.

The host will look to regroup and tighten the loose ends before meeting its arch-rival in the evening.

"It's about recovery and just making sure the options and execution is as good as can be. We have drifted a bit in the last couple of games with a little bit of fatigue and a little bit of being near the top of the table. But that's over now, and we can focus on the one-off game in Chennai and go wherever we need to go after that," Fleming had reflected after the loss to Kings XI.

Both the sides are three-time champions. They have done this before. The winner gets a direct entry into the final in Hyderabad on May 12; the team on the losing side will get a second chance to qualify. It has to beat the winner of the Eliminator in Qualifier 2.

 

Number crunch

205 - Hardik Pandya's strike-rate against spinners

6.71 - Mitchell Santner's economy rate in this season

192 - It is the highest team total in Qualifier 1 [CSK vs MI, 2013]

203 - Highest runs by a player in Qualifier 1 [Suresh Raina]

83 - Highest individual score by a player in Qualifier 1 [Michael Hussey, CSK vs MI, 2013]

113 - Number of sixes hit in Qualifier 1

9 - Most wickets by a bowler in Qualifer 1 [Dwayne Bravo]

 

 

Head-to-head

15-11 in favour of Mumbai

In playoffs: CSK 4, MI 3 on seven occasions

 

Squads

Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav,  Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Anukul Roy, Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga,  Jasprit Bumrah

Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Dhruv Shorey, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir