Preview: Not too long ago, Rohit Sharma called the rivalry the 'El Classico' of IPL. That's how fierce the duel between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians has been over the years. It's perhaps the only major rivalry in the tournament.
It's apt that these two top sides will play the first qualifier of the 2019 edition on Tuesday. On any other day, CSK would have been firm favourites for the match given the match is in their 'Den', the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. However, if at all there's one team that can claim to have had the edge over CSK in Chennai, it's MI. Rohit Sharma's side was the only team to beat CSK at Chepauk this season.
In fact, they've not lost a game in Chennai since 2010. MI are also the only side to beat CSK twice this season. Mumbai come into the game having won their last two matches, against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders. CSK come into the game on the back of a loss to Kings XI Punjab in Mohali. They also have an injury issue, with Kedar Jadhav out of the tournament with a shoulder problem.
These are enough reasons to even make them favourites for the game on Tuesday. Yet, no one in the right mind would rule out CSK in Chennai. The difference between Tuesday's game and the last time the two sides met in Chepauk is the fact that MS Dhoni is back, which makes a massive difference. CSK have looked lacklustre in Dhoni's absence, but with him around in a crucial game, expect them to be charged up.
CSK don't have the team to score massive like MI do, as was evident from their game against KXIP in Mohali. However, they do have knowledge of conditions in Chepauk and can adjust accordingly.
Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina have struck form at the right time, easing some burden off Dhoni. MI are the most balanced side in the IPL, with ability to counter any condition. They have options for every department and have no apparent weakness. All signs for a cracker of a game, with the loser getting another chance to make it to the final.
WATCH OUT FOR
Suresh Raina: With two half-centuries in the last two matches, Raina has struck form at the right time for CSK. His poor season until then, coupled with Shane Watson's struggles, made CSK heavily reliant on Dhoni the batsman. Watson has continued to struggle, making Raina's role even more crucial. How he finishes could well decide CSK's fortunes in the last leg of the tournament.
Rohit Sharma: The MI captain was getting cameos but struggled to convert them into big knocks. He did that to an extent in the game against KKR, taking his side home with a half-century. Rohit also made a half-century in the game in Chennai earlier in the tournament, and will have to do it once again on a pitch that's not easy for batsmen.
Mumbai: They are unlikely to change a winning combination.
Chennai: Kedar Jadhav is out with an injury. Expect Dhruv Shorey, or perhaps M Vijay, to replace him in the XI.
CSK: Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(w/c), Dhruv Shorey, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir
MI: Rohit Sharma(c), Quinton de Kock(w), Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mitchell McClenaghan, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga
First Published: May 7, 2019, 1:31 PM IST