We at CricketNext will dissect the upcoming contest through our statistics based analysis where we discuss which team has greater chances of coming out on top.
Arnab: Rahane should not be too much of a worry for Mumbai with Mitchell McClenaghan set to return to the XI in this game. McClenaghan can get the ball to dart in dangerously after pitching and Rahane has had an issue with the gap between bat and pad this season. 282 runs as an opener after 14 games is a record Rahane will wish to bury deep into the sand.
Baidurjo: Dhoni will always hold a special place in cricket lovers' hearts across the globe. But yes, he has definitely not had the best of times recently. Yet, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. So, discount him at your own peril. But one player who would surely gain in confidence after the last Pune game is Rahane. One of the finds of the IPL — as a Rajasthan opener — Rahane has had a dismal time this season and the unbeaten knock of 34 against Punjab should help him.
Arnab: Another interesting player battle would be the one between the two Kings of Death. MS Dhoni against Jasprit Bumrah. Dhoni is one of the best finishers world cricket has seen and Bumrah is one death bowler who even the best in the business fear. Considering the way Bumrah has climbed up the success ladder, he could be a handful for a Dhoni who is well past his prime.
Baidurjo: I am more looking forward to the battle between Pune skipper Smith and Harbhajan. Known as one of the best foreign players of spinners, Smith would love to destroy the aura Harbhajan has created this season with his tight line and length. Bhajji's economy rate of 6.48 this season pitted against Smith's 420 runs scored at 125.37. It should be interesting.
Baidurjo: Well, interestingly, Imran Tahir had managed to dismiss him once and gave away just 4 runs from the 6 balls he bowled to the all-rounder. This definitely brings Zampa and Washington Sundar into the game for Pune. In fact, Sundar has been amazing at the top for Pune, with an economy of 7.4 in the powerplay.
Arnab: Now let us bring MI's favourite Indian all-rounder. The ever reliable Hardik Pandya. What a season he has been having with the bat in hand. 226 runs at a strike rate of 160.28 clearly shows the impact he has had in finishing games. Not to forget the 6 wickets he has picked. He can be a handy bowler if the ball starts seaming a bit.
Baidurjo: Pune are ready with answers for every question Mumbai throws at them. For Pollard, Pune have Dan Christian waiting to mark his run-up. The bowlers has dismissed him thrice in 6 games and that clearly shows the domination factor. Also, Pollard's form has not really been very consistent to be fair.
Baidurjo: Pune have an answer for Rohit as well. The MI skipper started off very poorly against spinners and if memory serves me right, in his first 6 innings, he was dismissed on 5 occasions by spinners. Even though Imran Tahir has left for national duty, Adam Zampa would be egging to get a go against Rohit.
Baidurjo: Simmons might have had a good time ever since making the XI, but he is yet to come across a quality bowler like Jaydev Unadkat. With 21 wickets in 10 games, he has been on a roll. In fact, even in Pune's last game against KXIP, it was Unadkat who started the damage in the first over by dismissing Guptill.
Arnab: Again, the statistics are those from the group stages. When it comes to the playoffs, Mumbai turn into their own. And one man the team will definitely be looking at to give them a good start is Lendl Simmons. Into the team after Jos Buttler left for national duty, Simmons has scored 126 runs in 4 games with 2 fifties.
Arnab: In that case, Mumbai too had their own new performers in their last group game against KKR. Ambati Rayudu, Saurabh Tiwary, Vinay Kumar and Tim Southee. While Rayudu's knock of 63 off 37 balls has give a 'healthy' headache to coach Mahela Jayawardene, Vinay Kumar and Southee showed that they can breakthrough quality batting line-ups like the one KKR have.
Baidurjo: Agreed, but then the boys from Pune showed in the last game that they can win minus Stokes. Even though he was part of the XI, it was Shardul Thakur and Unadkat who picked the wickets. And in the batting, it was Rahul Tripathi and Ajinkya Rahane who held fort. Rahane's return to form with an unbeaten 34 augurs well for Pune.
Baidurjo: What Pune do not have in experience, they make up in young talent. Two players who have definitely stood up and made it count are Pune opener Rahul Tripathi and pacer Jaydev Unadkat. While Unadkat is slightly more experienced, having played for India, both have taken the IPL by storm.
Arnab: Past results hardly matter when it comes to a big stage like the Playoffs. It is the experience that counts and if you look at the numbers, Mumbai Indians have players who have played 45 games in total through Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard and Harbhajan Singh. On the other hand, Pune have just MS Dhoni to talk off with 17 games.
Baidurjo: Indeed a thriller on the cards. While MI have the past on their side, Pune hold the psychological edge. The two teams have met twice this season and Pune beat Mumbai on both occasions. While Pune won the first game chasing 185, the second time round they defended 160 successfully.
Hello and welcome to the LIVE preview of Qualifier 1 between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
I am Baidurjo, correspondent at CricketNext, and I have with me Arnab, editor of CricketNext. While I will be fighting the case for first time qualifiers Pune, Arnab will bat for Mumbai Indians — the table-toppers after the group phase.