M S Dhoni and his men should be the first to admit that they did not deserve to make it to the play-offs. Only an ill-timed loss for Royal Challengers Bangalore got them in. While in the earlier editions, Chennai Super Kings qualified on the basis of their ability to fight back towards the latter part of the tournament, this time they have been plain lucky to get through. However, that doesn’t make them any less dangerous.
Mumbai Indians, meanwhile, would go into the game bolstered by their 10-wicket bashing of Rajasthan Royals. Midway through this edition, there were in a similar position to some of the other teams who finished outside the top four. They raised their game at the right moments and have deservedly qualified. Thus, they would go into the clash as the favourites. However, this being the eliminator, neither team can afford to relax.
As a bowler, Harbhajan Singh has had limited success in this edition; as a leader though he has been reasonably good. More kudos though should be reserved for the entire team. Lasith Malinga has been excellent throughout with his slinging yorkers while Kieron Pollard has played a couple of match-turning knocks.
Significantly, the Indian contingent has also come to the party for Mumbai. Ambati Rayudu has experienced some great highs in the league games even as Munaf Patel has been consistent with the ball. Among others, Dwayne Smith has played two excellent knocks, which should give him confidence going into the big game. Even a fringe player like Dhawal Kulkarni, who was given an opportunity against Rajasthan, came up with an impressive effort, picking up three scalps. Last but not the least, Sachin Tendulkar has also got among the runs going into the eliminator. The good news for Mumbai is that we haven’t even mentioned Rohit Sharma yet.
Things are nowhere near as rosy for Dhoni and co. They were blown away in their last league game by Kings XI Punjab and, as mentioned earlier, were extremely lucky to qualify. Batting has been Chennai’s Achilles’ heel all through the tournament. Suresh Raina, who went into the edition as IPL’s most successful player, has done little to live up to his reputation. The others have fared only slightly better. The entry of Michael Hussey has strengthened the batting, but has forced Chennai to keep out Faf du Plessis, one of their few success stories. Murali Vijay has done well in phases. Dhoni himself has struggled, leaving Dwayne Bravo as the only saving grace in the batting department.
Shifting focus to their bowling, the lack of penetration on the part of R Ashwin has affected their fortunes in a major way. Ben Hilfenhaus has been their best bowler on show, but he has only received support from Bravo. Ravindra Jadeja and the rest have only made up the numbers. Speaking of Jadeja, apart from his all-round effort very early in the tournament, he has done very little of note, which has been one of key causes of Chennai’s downfall.
Malinga Vs Vijay
Ashwin Vs Pollard
Bravo Vs Harbhajan
Smith Vs Hilfenhaus