The Indian Premier League has reached its business end and the play-offs begin with the first qualifier, which will pit Mumbai Indians against Rising Pune Supergiant at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
The much anticipated Maharashtra derby between the table toppers is not a knock-out match though. But the stakes are as high as it can get as the winner of the match will move straight into the final.
Rising Pune Supergiant have managed to do the double over their senior rivals this season but Mumbai will be up for the challenge on home turf. Cricketnext takes a look at the key battles which might decide the match.
1) Lendl Simmons vs Jaydev Unadkat
Simmons came into the picture after Jos Buttler returned to England for national duty and the West Indian's impact has been almost immediate. Just like Buttler, Simmons too has taken the onus on himself to give the team a flying start. The opening batsman has hit two half-centuries in four innings so far and he will have to be at his best if Mumbai are to build a strong foundation.
The man who will have the task of stopping Simmons will be the young Jaydev Unadkat. The left-arm paceman has surprised everyone with his sudden surge, picking up 21 wickets in just 10 matches to climb up to the second spot in the race for the purple cap.
2) Rohit Sharma vs Adam Zampa
The Mumbai captain had a torrid start to the season, but has slowly but surely got back into the groove as the tournament has progressed. Rohit Sharma has 282 runs to his name with three half-centuries so far. But his travails against spin bowling this season are well known and the onus of getting Rohit out cheaply will be on Adam Zampa.
The Aussie leg spinner sat out for most of the season as Imran Tahir led the spin charge for Pune, the youngster now has a chance to prove himself in the big match. He has already picked up 5 wickets in four matches.
3) Ajinkya Rahane vs Mitchell McClenaghan
Ajinkya Rahane has had quite a subdued IPL in comparison to his prior lofty standards as the opener has scored just one half-century so far. And that half-century came Pune's first match of the season against Mumbai. Rahane in fact has great record against Mumbai, having scored 474 runs in 13 innings with four half-centuries under his belt.
And the man who will have the job of keeping Rahane quiet is Mumbai's most consistent bowler Mitchell McClenaghan. The Kiwi has been extremely consistent for his franchise and has taken over from Malinga as the leader of the attack. McClenaghan has a great record against opening batsmen in the IPL.
4) Steve Smith vs Harbhajan Singh
If there is one man who can walk away with the match single-handedly for Pune, it is their captain Steven Smith, just like he did in the first match against Mumbai. But he needs to be wary of the threat posed by the wily Harbhajan Singh.
Bhajji loves to get into battles with key members of the opposition and his love for Australians is well documented. It was Harbhajan, who dismissed Smith in the last outing between the two teams.
5) MS Dhoni vs Jasprit Bumrah
His big-hitting powers might be on the wane but Mahendra Singh Dhoni can still be a handful with a bat in hand in the death overs. And to counter this threat, Mumbai will depend on Jasprit Bumrah, perhaps the best death bowler in limited overs cricket in the world currently.
The duo have locked horns several times in thepast the and scales are tilted firmly in favour of the young paceman, who has dismissed Dhoni twice and has also managed to keep him quiet.