IPL playoffs: Will plucky Mumbai overcome Chennai challenge?
After scripting an incredible finish in their last game to earn a place at the play-offs, defending champions Mumbai Indians will now face two-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the IPL eliminator in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The resurgent MI, who sealed a berth at the play-offs by virtue of a better net run-rate after producing an improbable run-chase against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday, would be eager to continue in the same vein but they face a daunting task against a formidable side at the Brabourne Stadium.
Kiwi batsman Corey Anderson conjured up an astonishing 44-ball 95 under tremendous pressure to single-handedly power Mumbai Indians to the IPL play-offs as the hosts rattled Rajasthan Royals by five wickets in a high-scoring thriller.
Requiring to chase down a 190-run target within 15 overs, Mumbai Indians overhauled the target in just 14.4 overs.
The defending team has certainly come a long way following the first phase in the UAE where the Rohit Sharma-led squad tasted five defeats in a row.
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Image: Mumbai Indians players
Anderson, Pollard give Mumbai quality batting in the middle-order
Mumbai seems to have put behind its opening woes, with a successful combination of former Australian player Michael Hussey and West Indian Lendl Simmons, who has scored the only century so far.
Ambati Rayudu and skipper Rohit Sharma have been in good touch and the middle-order is a force to reckon with powered by the hard-hitting Anderson and West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard.
However, Mumbai's bowling attack looks weak in the absence of Lasith Malinga, who is representing Sri Lanka in the series against England.
Praveen Kumar, who was a replacement to Zaheer Khan sustained an ankle injury and it is unclear whether the Uttar Pradesh pacer will feature in the crucial tie against Chennai Super Kings.
The addition of young Karnataka leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal has added teeth to the bowling department with off-spinner Harbhajan Singh being in his elements.
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Image: Mumbai Indians' Corey Anderson with team mentor Sachin Tendulkar
Chennai have found form again
Chennai, on the other hand, snapped their three-match losing streak with a comfortable eight-win win against the Royal Challengers on Saturday.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men won both the league ties against Mumbai this year and now they’ll be eager to repeat the performance and get another shot at the title.
Chennai possess a good batting line-up which includes the lethal opening pair of West Indian Dwayne Smith and New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum.
Smith has amassed 501 runs so far this season, while McCullum has scored 380 runs.
Also the return to form of South African Faf du Plessis after a string of low scores and the inclusion of David Hussey has strengthened their batting attack.
On the bowling front, Mohit Sharma has been the pick of the bowlers for the Southern side with 18 scalps, while all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has picked up 16 wickets.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Corey Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah, Marchant de Lange, Ben Dunk, Chidhambaram Gautam, Shreyas Gopal, Harbhajan Singh, Josh Hazlewood, Michael Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Sushant Marathe, Pragyan Ojha, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Pawan Suyal, Aditya Tare, Apoorv Wankhade.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, David Hussey, Ravindra Jadeja, Mithun Manhas, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishwar Pandey, Mohit Sharma, Samuel Badree, Faf du Plessis, John Hastings, Matt Henry, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ashish Nehra, Baba Aparajith, Pawan Negi, Ronit More and Vijay Shankar.
Image: Chennai Super Kings players at a training session