Wankhede Stadium. Mumbai
May 5th , 2013
Mumbai – WLWWLLWWWL
CSK – LWWLWWWWWWW
You could call it a strange coincidence but Exactly 364 days ago to this day, when these two teams clashed at the very same venue, a certain Dwayne Smith who had been picked as a last minute replacement for the injured Mitchell Johnson to beef up the squad, pulled off a Houdini, on his season debut by smashing 14 runs of the last 3 balls off Ben Hilfenhaus to guide the Mumbai Indians to a seemingly improbable win. Exactly a year on, since Smith scripted this fairytale win, the Mumbai Indians shall be looking to some similar sort of individual or collective brilliance as they take on the CSK who appears to have all bases covered and are undoubtedly the team to beat this season.
The Mumbai Indians return to their home ground with a 100% win record this season and with their skipper Rohit Sharma finally doing justice to the oodles of talent that he has been blessed with, by consistently notching up the impactful innings, ensuring that Mumbai find themselves in the top half of the table. Apart from his batting, his leadership has also invigorated the team which is quite evident from the marked difference in the fielding standards that would make even a certain Jonty Rhodes proud of his lads. Mumbai would be hoping that both their openers click together as the Mumbai pitch which has probably been the most sporting wicket of this season would afford the right bounce and pace for a certain Sachin Tendulkar who has had an indifferent season so far to get back to form and give the Sunday Mumbai Crowd that one big innings as he has till now flattered to decieve. Mumbai would be hoping that their lacklustre performance against the Sunrisers would be an abberation and they can maintain their unbeaten run at home.
X factor: Kieron Pollard. We have been priveleged to watch the moment of the tournament when Pollard pulled off a stunner at the boundary rope of Shaun Marsh, a catch that turned the tide for the Mumbai Indians in their last home outing. It has been nice to see that Pollard is finally promoted up the order to Number 5, a spot that he is slowly making his own with the crucial impetus that he provides at the end due to his unrivalled ability to hit even the good balls for humongous sixes. There was also no love lost between him and his Countryman Dwayne Bravo the last time these two teams played at Chennai and with Bravo having had an exceptional tournament so far, it shall be interesting to see how this needle between the two spices up the contest.
Chennai Super Kings
7 consecutive wins later, a feat that was equalled only by RCB in the league’s 2011 edition, CSK have started this season with a bang which has been quite different from previous seasons and have brushed aside the " Slow Starters " tag with aplomb. Dhoni"s men have a cent percent away record this season which is a fair reflection of how dominant CSK has been and are the only team that have guaranteed themselves qualification sitting pretty with 18 points. Strangely both their losses have been at home and CSK shall be mindful of the fact that it was Mumbai who sneaked over the finish line thanks to a stupendous catch by Pollard at the boundary rope. The only chink that one can probably think off is that CSK could struggle in their lower middle order purely because of the fact that their top order has been so consistently good that the batsmen at Number 5,6 and 7 have barely had a decent outing with the bat and it could only come down to lack of match practice in a pressure situation
X Factor: Mohit Sharma. The Young Indian lad has been the find of the league so far so much so that Dhoni bowled him out in the hope of quick wickets against Punjab in their last outing. Credit to him that he has consistently provided the early breakthorughs and has been CSK"s most consistent strike bowler so far and with a certain Sachin Tendulkar who has a penchant of giving away his wicket to the debutants that he faces, it will be interesting how this battle hots up.
Prediction: With a voiceferus Wankhede Crowd egging them on, Mumbai might just about pull through this one simply because as the league stands every win for Mumbai has far more ramifications than CSK so it could come down to which team shows that extra hunger in the fight to the finish?