The top two in the Indian Premier League table meet to kick off the postseason on Tuesday evening when the Mumbai Indians take on the Chennai Super Kings in the backyard of the defending champions, for the right to move straight into the final on Sunday.
This isn’t knockout cricket for these two sides just yet though. Whoever loses this will head to Visag for a second go at making the title showdown so we should see some good cricket here, which is expected to be high on quality and competitiveness but maybe not have the drama the three games to follow could have.
We are not used to the Mumbai Indians topping the table but not only have they done that this season, but they have looked like the side most suited to the competition and indeed going on to win the title. A win here will move them straight into the final and give them maximum rest and preparation time for the title showdown.
If anything the Indians have got better as they have gone along and when you consider where they were when they started out this season that is a daunting prospect for the rest. They have the foundations built on a classy bowling attack but the good quality batting up top and the brutal power in their middle order make them a formidable opponent.
Chennai Super Kings
The way the Chennai Super Kings started the season it looked like their title defence would be a formality but as expected they dipped somewhat in the second part of the campaign. It was always going to be impossible to play 14 matches at the level they did in the early stage of the season so now the test for them is to see whether they can raise their game back to where it was at the beginning of the campaign.
In a weird situation, the Super Kings’ batting has actually got better as the season has gone on in terms of the amount of players delivering good performances, but that has come at the detriment to their bowling attack which has just started going round the park a little more than earlier in the campaign. If they are going to win the title they really need to get back to their tight nature of the first seven or eight matches.
One of the reasons why these two sides have made it into this match is their consistency in team selection and I’m not expecting too much to change in that regard here. Neither side have lost too many players to World Cup preparation so there is no reason for any significant changes.
Chennai Super Kings will be forced into one though as Kedar Jadhav has picked up a shoulder injury and has been ruled out of the remainder of the competition. Dhruv Shorey or Murali Vijay would look to be the best placed to step in.
I’m with the Mumbai Indians here. I think they will be very tough to stop from here on in. They have already beaten Chennai Super Kings twice this season which means that they have encountered the Chepauk wicket and dealt with it just fine. That would have been my only concern over them in many ways because they look a million dollars otherwise.
Chennai have these periods in matches where they just get stuck with the bat and you can’t afford that against a free scoring Mumbai Indians side who have all the experience needed to come through in the big matches. Mumbai have more players playing towards their peak level than Chennai do and ultimately that can be the difference here.
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