This is it; we’re down to the final four teams in the competition. Tomorrow’s game sees the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings battle it out for a spot in the 2019 IPL final, the loser however will have to play the winner of the eliminator at Visakhapatnam. On a familiar surface in front of their passionate home crowd, CSK should thrive on these conditions. Mumbai shouldn’t be disregarded though, they look in superb-touch heading into this season’s playoffs.
Finishing this year’s tournament on top of the points table, Mumbai threatens to claim their fourth IPL title which would see them surpass Chennai as the most dominant team of the decade, wow! Credit to Rohit Sharma and his team, they’ve turned up at the right time proving to be one of the toughest teams to beat in that second half of the tournament. Coming off a nine-wicket victory against the Knight Riders, Mumbai have set themselves up for a successful playoffs campaign with a number of star players in scintillating-form. Life as a 32-year-old has started off pretty nicely for skipper Rohit Sharma, an unbeaten half century alongside No. 3 Suryakumar Yadav who managed to deliver the knockout blow in his unbeaten 46 striking at over 170 is a huge confidence-booster. Mumbai have bigger fish to fry, one of them being the Chennai Super Kings. Spin is expected to counteract Mumbai’s power-hitting, and on a surface like Chennai’s it’s going to be extremely-challenging. Quinton de Kock and Hardik Pandya hold the key to success in this game, both are emphatic strikers of the ball and can be devastating scoreboard-contributors.
We saw it firsthand with the Knight Riders, holding back your aggressive ball-strikers can cost you big time which is exactly what happened to Andre Russell and Sunil Narine. I fear that the same will happen to Kieron Pollard, he’s an incredible striker of the ball but is often wasted down the order. Both Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya will play a vital role with the ball in Chennai, this wicket is conducive to spin and should offer plenty of turn and bounce as well grip and hold in the surface. This pitch should also suit Sri Lankan veteran Lasith Malinga who tends to take pace off the ball which is one of the reasons why he’s been so successful this season, his yorker is equally as effective. Both Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga picked up another five wickets between them in the last match, M. A. Chidambaram Stadium could prove a bit more challenging. With two world-class quicks and a host of dynamic batsmen, Mumbai aren’t without a chance tomorrow evening.
Chennai Super Kings
This is an opportunity that Chennai can’t afford to squander. CSK was once again exposed in certain areas of their game against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali which saw them knocked off their perch at the top of the points table by the Mumbai Indians. While Faf du Plessis was magnificent with bat in hand scoring a top-of-the-line 96 off just 55 deliveries, his veteran opening partner was again dismantled for a third-consecutive single-digit score. What looked to be a change in fortunes against Hyderabad four games ago amounted to nothing for Shane Watson, it’s just been one-big epic struggle for the former Aussie all-rounder. Will Dhoni & CSK take Watson into the playoffs purely on potential? Loyalty is one thing, but 258 runs in 14 matches simply isn’t good enough. The one thing that might have saved Watson was the performances of Suresh Raina and du Plessis with the bat, Raina registered back-to-back fifties for the first time this season. Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav have also been well-below their best in IPL 12, MS Dhoni’s cool-headed batting and CSK’s bowling has got them to where they are now.
Opposition teams have failed to exploit CSK’s bowling attack when given the opportunity in this season’s IPL, they are an impressive unit but still have their weaknesses like any other side. The perception of this CSK bowling outfit is that runs don’t come easy and they’ll pounce on the batsman’s mistakes, before you know it the mindset is survival which quickly turns into panic. All of a sudden Deepak Chahar isn’t having the impact he once had with the new ball and Imran Tahir has been negated with minimal-risk batting in recent times. Apart from that outstanding performance against the Capitals where Tahir picked up 4/12, the 40-year-old has managed just 2 wickets in his past four outings. Even the usually-economical Harbhajan Singh conceded a whopping-57 runs in his last outing in Mohali, however he did finish with three wickets to his name. Someone like Ravindra Jadeja will have to steady the ship, his last outing in Chennai saw him pick up figures of 3/9.
Top 4 fantasy picks – Mumbai Indians
- Krunal Pandya
- Suryakumar Yadav
- Hardik Pandya
- Rahul Chahar
Wildcard pick – Kieron Pollard
Top 4 fantasy picks – Chennai Super Kings
- Faf du Plessis
- Ravindra Jadeja
- MS Dhoni
- Imran Tahir
Wildcard pick – Shane Watson
Mumbai Indians (possible) – 1. Quinton de Kock (wk) 2. Rohit Sharma © 3. Suryakumar Yadav 4. Ishan Kishan 5. Hardik Pandya 6. Kieron Pollard 7. Krunal Pandya 8. Mitchell McClenaghan/Anukul Roy 9. Rahul Chahar 10. Lasith Malinga 11. Jasprit Bumrah.
Chennai Super Kings (possible) – 1. Faf du Plessis 2. Shane Watson 3. Suresh Raina 4. Ambati Rayudu 5. MS Dhoni (c & wk) 6. Kedar Jadhav 7. Dwayne Bravo 8. Ravindra Jadeja 9. Deepak Chahar 10. Harbhajan Singh 11. Imran Tahir.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.