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Mumbai Indians rely on home advantage against rampant Chennai

Last updated on: May 09, 2014 20:44 IST

Mumbai Indians counting on home advantage against rampant Chennai

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Their campaign back on track after five successive defeats in the UAE leg, defending champions Mumbai Indians take on two-time champions Chennai Super Kings in a potentially explosive, no-holds-barred IPL contest at the Wankhede stadium on Saturday. 

The match is more crucial for the hosts and Champions League holders than their southern opponents, who are sitting pretty at No. 2 on the points table with six wins from eight games.

Mumbai's comprehensive back-to-back victories over table-toppers Kings XI Punjab last week, followed by another well-merited one against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday at their well-fortified home venue, has brought them right back into the race for the four play-off berths.

However, a first defeat in 11 games at this venue since tasting defeat in 2012 will virtually derail Mumbai's quest for back-to-back IPL crowns and emulating Super Kings' feat in 2010 and '11.

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Image: Mumbai Indians players celebrate the fall of a wicket
Photographs: BCCI

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Chidambaram Gautam has been a surprise package

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Mumbai will be eager to carry their winning momentum against the Super Kings, whose morale, especially its bowlers', could be down after the 44-run thrashing they got from Kings XI on Wednesday. 

Chennai's bowlers, ripped apart by Kings XI's Glenn Maxwell and company, will find in-form captain Rohit Sharma and burly West Indian powerhouse Kieron Pollard major stumbling blocks. 

Sharma, who scored a superb 59 not out, and Pollard (43) put on a near-century partnership for the fifth wicket against Bangalore in Mumbai's previous game which helped the home team post 187, their highest total this season. 

Both these batsmen revel at the Wankhede, where the ball comes on to the bat nicely, and are expected to be the main hurdles for Chennai's varied bowling attack. 

Other Mumbai batsmen like Ambati Rayudu and Corey Anderson have made starts without launching into the big league, while new-look opener Chidambaram Gautam has surprised the public with his big hits.

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Image: Rohit Sharma and Chidambaram Gautam
Photographs: BCCI

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Chennai's batsmen will relish the surface

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Super Kings' batsmen, too, especially the successful opening combination of Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith, apart from Suresh Raina (212 runs from eight games) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (147), will also relish the surface, which is good for stroke play.

West Indian Smith is pretty much used to the Wankhede track having played for Mumbai before shifting base and is the leading run-getter (339) for his team along with New Zealand captain McCullum (314). 

Both teams have a well-balanced attack, with Lasith Malinga (9 wickets) for Mumbai, and Mohit Sharma (14) for Chennai being the most successful medium pace bowlers. 

The hosts have beefed up their pace attack, which has been hit heavy by the injury to Zaheer Khan, by including Uttar Pradesh swing bowler Praveen Kumar after Pawan Suyal proved very expensive against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

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Image: Chennai Super Kings players gather before the start of their match
Photographs: BCCI

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Chennai also have a good bowling attack

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If Mumbai have the fighting Harbhajan Singh (six wickets) to bank upon for applying the brakes in the middle overs, Chennai have their spin twins - Ravindra Jadeja (11) and Ravichandran Ashwin (7) - to do the job. 

Chennai, however, appear to be missing Dwayne Bravo, their top all-rounder, who was ruled out of the season after getting injured in their first game. 

Dew fall could be a factor for the team bowling second. 

Mumbai had the upper hand over their rivals last year, winning three out of their four clashes in the season, their lone defeat coming in the first qualifier at Delhi which they avenged in the all-important final in Kolkata and became champions.


Image: Mohit Sharma celebrates a wicket with his Chennai teammates
Photographs: BCCI

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