The first playoffs match at this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) will take place at the Chepauk Cricket Ground in Chennai later today. Mumbai Indians (MI), who topped the points table, will take on the second-placed Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in a mouth-watering clash of IPL giants.
The winner of this match will go directly to the final. The loser will get one more chance for a crack at the final, as they get to play against the winner of the second playoffs match in what is a virtual semi final.
A lot are at stakes in this match. The winner will get ample rest before the final. While the loser has to play an extra match and could possibly miss out on the final as well. The beauty of the IPL format is that these two teams could play again in the final.
Head to Head Record
Mumbai Indians lead to the head-to-head record. These two teams have played 28 times against each other. Mumbai have won 16 of these matches, including the last three matches. Super Kings have managed 12 wins against the MI.
Interestingly, in the playoffs stage, they have clashed seven times. CSK have a slight advantage here. They have won four playoffs matches against Mumbai’s seven.
The match is held at Chennai, where these two teams have competed seven times. Curiously, Mumbai Indians have won five of those matches, whereas CSK have succeeded in just two matches. In fact, Mumbai Indians have won five previous matches on the trot against Super Kings in Chennai. The last time CSK defeated MI in Chennai was in 2010.
Mumbai Indians: Preview
Mumbai Indians are the best all-round team in the fray. They have the most formidable bowling line-up. They are the best fielding side too. They have a long and hard-hitting batting order. In other words, there is no obvious weakness to the team.
If you look deep into the performance of the squad, you may notice their batsmen’s tendency to freeze for a while. Even though they get a good start with the bat, there is no guarantee that they will post a big total. The opposite is also true. Even though they start poorly, they could post a big total.
In Chennai, the pitch has been low and slow. MI could go with three spinners. They will also have three fast bowlers at their disposal. Plus, they do not have any psychological scar against CSK.
Chennai Super Kings: Preview
CSK’s fortunes depend on two things. First is the form of MS Dhoni in batting, wicket-keeping and captaining. Second is the form of their spinners. If both these boxes are ticked, Chennai will be hard to beat.
Their biggest weakness this season has been the top-order batting. Except for Faf de Plessis and Suresh Raina, none of the batsmen have shone consistently. Dhoni and lower middle order have bailed them out on a number of times.
They will enjoy terrific crowd support. But they need a strong performance from their top order batsmen.
Mumbai look more likely to win. But Chennai will not be easy pushovers.