Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians | Tuesday 19 May | Mumbai | 16:30
The Indian Premier League will crown a fresh champion in 2015 as last season’s title holders, the Kolkata Knight Riders, crashed unceremoniously out of the tournament. Losing finalists Kings XI Punjab also failed to make the knockout stage, marking a shift in the balance of IPL power. It is not so large a departure however; Chennai, Mumbai and Rajasthan are all previous champions. Of the top four, only Bangalore is yet to lift an IPL trophy. On to Qualifier 1, where the winner books an automatic place in the final and the loser is afforded another chance in Qualifier 2. The Super Kings haven’t won an IPL title since 2011 despite being amongst the top performers while the Mumbai Indians last lifted the trophy in 2013.
To Win Match
Chennai Super Kings 13/20
Mumbai Indians 12/10
Chennai Super Kings
The Super Kings will sorely miss top-scorer and opening batsman Brendon McCullum as the powerful striker moves away from the IPL and joins the Black Caps for Test duty. It will necessitate a top order shuffle for Chennai, but it will be nothing that the Super Kings cannot handle. Their batting line-up is made up of a solid group of performers with depth to spare. MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Devon Smith and Faf du Plessis have all scored above three hundred runs in the tournament so far. Winning matches is truly a team effort for CSK. Indeed, the same sentiment can be applied to the bowlers who all shared among the Kings XI Punjab wickets in Chennai’s last outing. In terms of the tournament at large, Dwayne Bravo (twenty wickets) and Ashish Nehra (eighteen) have been the most destructive. Chennai are the complete package and although Mumbai have shown vast improvement, they’ll need to fire on all cylinders to beat the knockout old hands.
Mumbai showed their steel as they ousted Sunrisers Hyderabad by nine wickets in a virtual knockout fixture. The winner would go on to finish second on the overall table and the loser would inevitably miss out on the playoffs. Mumbai are a resilient side developing a reputation for tournament comebacks. Last year they began with five losses in the UAE only to turn their form around and secure seven victories in India, the last of which was achieved facing gigantic odds. Mumbai chased 190 in 14.3 overs to book their place in the knockout stages. This year they began with four successive losses but fought back to secure five wins on the trot, dropping only two more matches and finishing second overall. Captain Rohit Sharma and Lendl Simmons have been the two most valuable run-scorers for Mumbai this season. Both batting at the top of the order, the onus is on the pair to get Mumbai off to a good start. In the bowling department, Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan form a vicious new ball partnership and combined well to scupper Sunrisers in their last outing.
The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai - the home ground for the Indians - will play host to this crucial qualifier. Mumbai haven’t made the ground as impenetrable as season’s past having won four of the seven fixtures hosted there. Still, it’s a record better than 50% and with their home crowd behind them should arrive ready for an upset. Scores have tended to be within the 150 - 180 run bracket and anything above that will prove a stiff chase.
VERDICT: Chennai Super Kings 13/20
At this stage of the competition, one simply has to get behind the pedigree of the Super Kings. Yes, Mumbai will be playing in their sixth successive edition of the knockout stages and have won the trophy more recently. But compare it to the Super Kings, who have made the knockout stages in every tournament and haven’t finished lower than third in the last five seasons. The smart money in on CSK. Good luck.