Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi
May 21st, 2013
Form Guide ( Last 5 matches)
Mumbai – Irrelevant
With the curtains drawn on the league stage of the tournament, the two most consistent teams this season shall have their daggers drawn against each other in a clash that promises to live up to its top billing. The stakes are high for both teams in what is a virtual semi-final and the winner of this match would certainly assert themselves as firm favourites for the title. There isn’t much to choose between these two sides who have played a far superior brand of cricket as compared to the other teams in the competition and richly deserve their spot at the top of the table.
Mumbai Indians shall pride themselves in being the only team that has beaten CSK twice this season and this shall certainly serve as a boost to their psyche. However, MI would know all too well that they have historically always stumbled in the final stages of the tournament and on more than one occasion, it is CSK who have been their nemesis. Another loss at this stage would most certainly hand them the tag of "Chokers" and "Paper Tigers", tags which this team could certainly do without. A side which has a legion of fans and probably the largest fan base shall be left disillusioned if MI were to falter again at the home stretch
CSK on the other hand are a team that historically play their A game in the final stages of the tournament and would be wishing to ensure that history repeats itself. Come Tuesday night and Dhoni’s boys will try their utmost to continue to be a thorn in the MI flesh. CSK would know that probably for the first time, they go into this match as the slight underdogs with MI hoping to complete a rare treble of wins over them. A Delhi track that is known to be one of the toughest ones to predict this season shall add even more intrigue to this absorbing contest.
This MI team has surely looked the most impressive and complete team so far as compared to all their previous seasons. Since, Rohit Sharma has taken over the reigns of captaincy, he has walked the talk of how his team would ensure that Wankhede remains a fortress for all visiting teams. Buoyed by a raucous home crowd, MI has completed a string of impressive wins against top ranked sides at home and it is their away record that they would be looking to improve on. MI’s away form have been mercurial this season and they shall be wary of the fact that barring a last ball loss to RCB, the manner in which they have lost their other matches has been quite disconcerting. With Sachin Tendulkar likely to be fit for this game, he shall in all likelihood regain his opening slot probably at the cost of Ambati Rayudu who has had a disappointing season this year. Aditya Tare who came in as a last minute replacement for SRT against RR has sparkled with the bat and would be the most likely candidate to partner SRT and bring the much needed push at the top of the order. MI’s middle order does appear solid and with the addition of Glenn Maxwell or Dwayne Smith, both of whom are capable of teeing off in case of a Pollard failure and shall further relieve Rohit of the added burden of stabilizing the middle order. MI’s bowling attack produced their best performance when they defended a paltry 139 on a batting friendly Wankhede track with remarkable ease. As far as the bowling unit goes, The pair of Mitchell Johnson who has had a phenomenal season, and Slingaaa Malinga who like old wine has improved with every outing will be a force to reckon with for the CSK batting line up. Just to sweeten the deal, Harbhajan and Ojha have also picked up crucial wickets having bowled with an impressive economy rate amongst all the spinners this season. The Indian spin twins have ensured that MI have been able to keep up the pressure in the middle overs after the impressive starts that have been consistently provided by Johnson. MI, despite a poor outing in the field in their last match against Punjab, still does rank amongst the best fielding and catching units of this tournament and shall wish to continue their impressive fielding show in this match.
X Factor:Rohit Sharma. Rohit has been the batting mainstay of the team this season and has never looked burdened by the pressure of captaincy both on and off the field. RGS has shown the ability of rising to the occasion at crucial times and a captain’s knock from him could serve as a knock out blow to CSK in this crucial match.. Most cricket pundits around the world are left awestruck at the sight of a belligerent Rohit in full flow but they tear their hair out at the sight of him self destructing. A classy knock from Rohit shall be pleasing to the eye to even the most die hard CSK supporter and it is this unique ability that he alone possesses which makes him the most enigmatic figure in world cricket at the moment. Rohit would know that a big match performance could help him silence his critics and also earn him the bragging rights in the Indian Dressing room for the Champions trophy
Chennai Super Kings
The two time champs are a team that have generally started slowly only to gather steam at the final stages of the tournament. This time however, they have actually turned the tables wherein they started the season at a brisk pace only to relatively slow down in the latter half of the tournament. Dhoni"s men however have a tendency to catch their opponents by the scruff of their neck just when the other team would be lulled into thinking that the mighty CSK are floundering. CSK in more ways than just the colour of their clothing resemble the Australian cricket team of the last decade as very often in sport it is the habit of winning the big games that stands a team in good stead while playing knock out matches. Their batting line-up in many ways epitomizes their best batsman of this season, Michael Hussey, (one of the most complete batsmen to have ever played the game) as the most complete batting side amongst all the teams. Though Raina has had a bit of a hit and miss season it is their Captain cool MSD who has invariably rescued the team when stuck in a hole. Dwayne Bravo in addition to making the ball talk has doubled up as a finisher with the bat in some crunch matches and is at present the most valuable asset to this team. As far as the bowling is concerned, Mohit Sharma and Chris Morris have bowled well in tandem, but is the experienced spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja who have been the slight weak link in the CSK bowling armour. The CSK spin duo must pull their socks up on a Kotla pitch traditionally known to assist spin. All in all, it is tough to pinpoint any noticeable weakness in this team and they are as always the team to beat this tournament.
X Factor: M.S Dhoni. It is hard to look beyond the obvious. This man has a penchant of saving his best knocks for the big occasion would love to continue to enhance his reputation as a big game player. MI shall still be smarting from the killer punch that MSD had given them in the eliminator last year and would know that no total is safe with Dhoni at the crease. MSD is rightly considered the best finisher in the shortened version of the game and MI would know he would have certainly saved his best for the last. MI’s bowling line up shall have their task cut out if a free spirited and rollicking MSD comes to the party and the helicopter shots shall certainly lighten up the Delhi sky.
Prediction: If you are a believer in destiny, then may be you would go with Mumbai but the contest itself is too tough to call. However, one thing is for sure that the Kotla crowd are in for a cracker jacker of a contest and Cricket fans around the world are sure to enjoy a sumptuous treat this Tuesday Night.