Could there have been a better template than this for the legendary rivalry that is Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings. Both the three-time champions will battle it out today to take one step towards the trophy as the winner will reach the final. In doing this, they will also create a big diversion in the path of the other team, who will have to win their next game if they want to make their way into the finals.
The cherry on top is the two-teams’ interesting record against each other. If you look at the head-to-head, MI leads the tide with 15-11. Furthermore, what is notable is MI’s recent form against CSK. They have lost only one game to CSK in their last seven outings, and that game too was almost an assured victory for them until a certain Dwayne Bravo swept the game away from them. Their record at Chepauk is even more astounding. The last time CSK beat MI at Chepauk was back in 2010. So MI clearly tilt the ship towards their side here, but in the knockout phases, CSK actually have a better record against MI. They have won four while the latter has won 3. So the numbers all point towards an iconic match.
Although CSK has no real weighing problems, they do have a couple of small ones. One pinching problem is the form of Shane Watson. Dhoni has shown unreal belief in him but he hasn’t repaid that in the least. Keeping his innings of 96 runs against SRH aside, he managed to score just 142 runs in 13 games. It would be highly tempting to rest him for this game, but he is a big-match player. Last year too, he upped his game in the final when the team needed him to the most. You never know when a player like him can produce a match-winning innings. On this Chepauk pitch CSK would want to get another spinner within their ranks. They do have Mitch Santner, but who will make way for him? Technically it should be Dwayne Bravo who has been disappointing this season, to say the least. But I don’t think the CSK management would be willing to take that step. Dhoni doesn’t believe in making too many changes and he is quite likely to stick to the same 11 even if it is not the best one he can play.
MI, the table toppers, have some issues of their own. The biggest being the middle muddle. The flexibility in their batting lineup is their biggest strength and also their biggest weakness. The story of this whole season has been that Rohit gets out, SKY plays a bit and gets out, whoever comes in at 4 has a short stay at the crease, and Hardik and Krunal are left to save the day. That is what is happening in almost every game. The last game, though must have helped a lot. Rohit got to his fifty, and Suryakumar Yadav also played a quick and big knock. At Chepauk, spinners rule the roost, as all of us know. MI would want to get Mayank Markhande or Anukul Roy in their XI at the expense of a Mitch McClenaghan. This would also give them the option to choose between Ishan Kishan and Evin Lewis for the coveted No.4 position.
See, MI is the only team of current times that can beat CSK at Chepauk as they have shown many-a-times. Today is all about holding your nerve, and while CSK’s experienced players might be better at that, I still think that MI’s quality can definitely overpower CSK’s experience.