Chennai Super Kings' (CSK) dream of entering the play-offs had almost been dashed but the defeat of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by Bangalore has handed them a ray of hope. CSK would look to capitalise on this when they face a confident Mumbai Indians (MI) in their return fixture on Friday.
Languishing at the last spot on the points table with just six points from 10 matches, CSK need to win all their remaining four games and will have to pray that the results of the other matches go in their favour to help them scrape through to the play-offs.
The last time CSK and MI met in the ongoing season, CSK had registered a five-wicket win but since then, things have gone awry for Dhoni's men. Nothing has gone CSK's way and to add to their woes, their most experienced all-rounder Dwayne Bravo has now been ruled out of the league. Undoubtedly, CSK will have to dish out their best to remain in contention for the next stage.
While Faf du Plessis has been in good touch with the willow, the others -- especially Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu and Skipper MS Dhoni himself -- need to accept the lifeline with both hands. With Bravo's departure, the onus of the lower middle-order will fall on Ravindra Jadeja, who too needs to deliver.
Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Josh Hazlewood were economical in their last outing. However, the paltry score they were defending didn't let them hit the ground freely. The spin workload will fall on Jadeja. Imran Tahir is likely to get a chance after warming the bench.
On the other hand, MI would aim to get their campaign back on track after a heart-breaking loss to KXIP in their previous outing, which went down to the wire. MI have little worries as most of their top-order comprising Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan and skipper Rohit Sharma are in form barring the last game when only the South African could fire.
With the likes of Krunal and Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard in their middle-order, MI boast of some great finishers in their ranks. Their bowling too looks pretty decent with pacer Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult in red hot form.
While Boult leaked runs against KXIP, Bumrah was at his lethal best and would aim to replicate the show against a struggling CSK side. Spinners Rahul Chahar and Krunal will be expected to make breakthroughs in the middle-overs.
Overall, MI would not just aim to regain their winning touch but would also try to avenge their defeat in the campaign opener against their arch-rivals. Meanwhile, CSK will aim to fire in unison to remain afloat in the league and with the game being held on a batting-friendly Sharjah track, another spicy affair is most probably on the cards.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (Captain), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, KedarJadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore, RuturajGaikwad, Karn Sharma
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Chris Lynn, DhawalKulkarni, DigvijayDeshmukh, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, James Pattison, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Prince BalwantRai, Quinton De Kock, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult