Mumbai, April 16:
Vanquished in all their three matches so far in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), Mumbai Indians (MI) will have a tough challenge when they take on a strong Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday.
On current form, CSK seem to have the upper hand.
Mumbai Indians lost to Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad by seven wickets on Tuesday. Earlier, they went down to Kings XI Punjab at home by 18 runs, and perished to Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL-8 opener in Kolkata by seven wickets.
In contrast, CSK are high on confidence after logging full points from both their matches till date. The well-balanced team, led by India’s limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, pipped Delhi Daredevils by one run in Chennai and got the better of Sunrisers Hyderabad at home by 45 runs.
Ahead of Friday’s match, Mumbai Indians suffered a huge blow with star opener Aaron Finch being ruled out of the tournament due to a hamstring injury.
The Australian pulled his left leg hamstring against Rajasthan Royals on Tuesday when he tried to sneak a single.
With Mumbai off to a disappointing start, the news of his injury must be a shock to the team.
The local side now have to make a choice from other match-winning openers like Lendl Simmons and Aiden Blizzard, with Simmons likely to get the nod.
Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma will be anxious to get runs under his belt on Friday after back to back ducks against Punjab and Rajasthan. In-form batsman Corey Anderson will be the key batsman along with Kieron Pollard who looked in good touch against Rajasthan on Tuesday.
But Mumbai’s bowling department, spearheaded by Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga, will have to be at their best against an in-form CSK batting line-up, known for its hard-hitting capabilities.
Malinga has so far failed to impress, and needs to get his act together to check batsman of the calibre of Kiwi Brendon McCullum, who in his last match against Hyderabad smashed his second IPL century (100 not out off 56 balls).
The destructive opener’s knock powered the two-time IPL champions to a comfortable win. The hosts need to get him out early as he has the ability to take the game away from the opposition in no time.
Besides McCullum, the top and middle order boasts of clean strikers like Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. They can destroy any bowling on their day and are good finishers in the slog overs.
Their bowling has old horse Ashish Nehra, aided with a healthy economy rate and wicket taking abilities. He is well supported by young Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey who could come handy on the Mumbai pitch, which is likely to suit the pacers.
Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be someone to watch out for.
Head to head, MI and CSK are evenly poised, both winning 10 each out of their previous 20 encounters.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Aaron Finch, Ambati Rayudu, Aditya Tare, Corey Anderson, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Vinay Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Pragyan Ojha, Shreyas Gopal, Lendl Simmons, Unmukt Chand, Parthiv Patel, Josh Hazlewood, Marchant de Lange, Pawan Suyal, Mitchell McClenaghan, Abhimanyu Mithun, Aiden Blizzard, Akshay Wakhare, Nitish Rana, Siddhesh Lad, Hardik Pandya, Jagadeesha Suchith.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Baba Aparajith, Ishwar Pandey, Mithun Minhas, Pawan Negi, Ronit More, Rahul Sharma, Ankush Bains, Irfan Pathan, Pratyush Singh and Ekalavya Dwivedi, Dwayne Smith Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo, Francois du Plessis, Mchael Hussey, Matt Henry, Samuel Badree, Kyle Abbott, Andrew Tye (IANS)