MA Chidambaram stadium, Chennai

Irrespective of yet another slow start, choke and snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory performance by Mumbai Indians in the first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, this match will stand out for the sheer intensity of stars on both sides.

A CSK v/s MI match is never a dull or non-competitive affair. It will be Dhoni v/s Ponting, more as captains than batsmen. While Ponting has clearly passed his prime, as was evident from his struggle against Murali Kartik at Bangalore, Dhoni bats too low to make a massive impact. The Mumbai management must be still licking its wounds from the last ball loss in the first game of the season, but will have to come up with an ingenious solution that definitely involves dropping ONE of Sachin or Ponting from the opening slot. As usual, Pollard was wasted as a batsman, and Mumbai Indians maintained their staggering sub-6 runrate in the first 5 overs.

Chennai will come in strong, with Vijay gaining confidence and form against Australia, and Raina fresh from another test call-up. Ashwin is at his peak at home again, and Jadeja is now Sir RavindraSinh Jadeja- the best left arm spinner in India. They’re packed with T20 winners, and Mike Hussey is their trumpcard along with Dwayne Bravo.

Mumbai Indians

-Their first loss at Bangalore in league history.

-Not the first time Mumbai Indians have botched up a chase that looked under control after a 24-run Christian over.

-Malinga will not play at Chennai, for political reasons.

-MI have always been the stronger side on paper against most teams, but are not good frontrunners.

-MI lost the 2010 league Final at the same ground against Chennai, the only time they reached the final. Sachin Tendulkar was the highest run scorer in league that season.

-This match will feature two of the highest run-scorers in league history in Suresh Raina and Sachin Tendulkar. Chris Gayle, of course, will make a mockery of those records soon, even on one leg.-More than 62000 runs, 171 centuries and 42 years of cricket between the two MI openers. But T20 is a different ball game, and Kumble+Wright might learn that the hard way.

-Too many LEGENDARY cooks (the team thinktank) spoil the broth. Dinesh Karthik/Dwayne Smith must open, with Rohit at 3.

Chennai SuperKings

-Four Finals in 5 years, and 2 Championships. Enough said.

-Faf Du Plessis will not be playing till May. – the league’s most successful team, by a fair margin. 2012’s finalists. -Dhoni, Ashwin, Jadeja and Vijay were India’s test heroes in the recent 4-0 whitewash of Australia.

CSK scraped their way through 2012 into the finals, but look favorites in 2013 once again. KKR looked edgy, MI look soft and RCB look top-heavy as usual. Long way to go, but it’s hard to bet against the SuperKings to reach the final 4 again. They have NEVER failed to reach the semi-finals of the tournament.

-Ever since league began, Dhoni’s Team India has never reached the final 4 of a World T20 tournament.

Prediction: Easy one to call. MI will crash to their second consecutive defeat and Chennai- though rusty- could still sale through without a problem. Strange things are known to happen in this tournament, but without Malinga (and with the two ‘stalwarts’ at the top), those strange things will not happen today.

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