An embattled Mumbai Indians’ fight for survival in the ongoing Indian Premier League begins at Chennai Super Kings’ adopted home ground here on Saturday, an uphill task given their opponents’ form and formidable line-up.
The heartbreaking one-wicket defeat in the lung-opener is fresh in their minds but Mumbai Indians will have to play out of their skins to exact revenge at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
At the Wankhede in Mumbai earlier this month, CSK had defeated the defending champions by one wicket, and with a ball to spare.
MI are too keen to get back to winning ways after two straight reverses.
It has been a journey of contrasts for the two teams so far. While Mumbai have managed only one win in their six matches, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led outfit has won five of their six games.
The shifting of games from their original home did not affect Chennai as they won their first match in Pune.
For Mumbai, to survive in the tournament, this is a must-win encounter.
Mumbai batters have struggled in the tournament, barring Suryakumar Yadav.
Skipper Rohit Sharma has failed to fire in five of the six games and so is Kieron Pollard.
But if Rohit, Pollard, Surya, Evin Lewis and Hardik Pandya fire in unison, Mumbai can set up or chase big totals. And coach Mahela Jayawardane would expect all to score heavily tomorrow.
Save his match-winning 94 against Royal Challengers Banglore, Rohit has failed to get past 20 runs in five games. He would he hoping to turn the tables and get some runs under his belt.
Rohit’s batting position will also be crucial and MI can ask him to open and bring Surya at number 4.
Even in terms of bowling, MI have failed to perform as a unit. When one performed exceedingly well, he lacked support from the other end.
The 20-year-old leggie Mayank Markande has been the find for MI and he has grabbed 10 wickets from six games.
But others like ‘death overs’ specialist Jasprit Bumrah and Bangladesh pacer Muztifizur Rahman have not lived up to the expectations. If the star-studded CSK batting line-up has to be restricted, the two will have to play their part to perfection.
Mumbai can also look at bringing in New Zealand pacer Adam Milne for his compatriot Mitchell McClehaghan, who is leaking runs, especially in the end.
On the other hand, Chennai would take confidence from their last win when a vintage Dhoni helped the team chase a stiff target of 206 against RCB.
Chennai would be pleased that most of their batters Australian Shane Watson, Ambati Rayadu, Dwayne Bravo, Dhoni are in form.
Only Suresh Raina has been out of form and he would be keen to be among the runs.
Coach Stephen Fleming would expect another stellar performance from his batters on a pitch that usually aids the batsmen.
The Chennai bowling, led by Shardul Thakur and complemented by Imran Tahir, Depak Chahar, has also clicked so far.
While Mumbai will be under extreme pressure to deliver, another win for Chennai would consolidate their position in the table.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mustifizur Rahman, Adam Milne, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar, Evin Lewis, Saurabh Tiwary, Ben Cutting, Pradeep Sangwan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Tajinder Singh, Sharad Lumba, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Mayank Markande Akila Dhanajaya, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, MD Nidheesh and Mitchell McClenaghan.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf Du Plesis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayadu, Deepak Chahar, K M Asif, Kanish Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshtiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur and N Jagadeesan, David Willy. Match starts at 8 PM. (PTI)