1. The big clash
The hunt for the top four spots in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has seen its share of ups and downs, and that looks set to continue right to the end of the league match stage. Riding high on one such high are Mumbai Indians (MI), who are looking to extend their four-game unbeaten run when they take on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Friday's clash.
Mumbai are currently sixth in the standings, but confidence will be high after recovering from a torrid start to the season, which saw them register just one win in the first five matches.
For table-toppers CSK, however, it will be business as usual as they carry their consistent form from the start of the season to finalise their spot in the playoffs with victory in Chennai.
In their last match against Delhi Daredevils (DD) on Tuesday, Mumbai outclassed their opponents in both the batting and bowling departments, beating them by five wickets.
The Mumbai bowlers restricted Delhi to 152 and then skipper Rohit Sharma (46) and in-form Ambati Rayudu (49 not out) played good knocks in a rain-affected match to guide the team to a comfortable win.
On the other hand, CSK beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by 24 runs in their last outing on Monday. Suresh Raina's half-century (52) helped CSK put up a competitive total of 148 while some phenomenal bowling and fielding ensured victory for the men in yellow.
Mumbai will miss the services of their star pacer Lasith Malinga in this match as Sri Lankan players are not permitted to play in Chennai.
But with momentum with the Mumbai Indians and form dictating play for Chennai, this match could prove to be quite a close call.
Chennai Super Kings’ Skipper MS Dhoni along with a teammate Ishwar Pandey and Suresh Raina celebrating a wicket at the MAC Stadium in Chennai. (PTI Photo)
Chennai Super Kings (WLLWW): CSK have been one of the most consistent outfits in the IPL this season and come into this match with 3 wins in their last five matches.
Mumbai Indians (WWWWL): The Mumbai Indians are the only team in the league on a winning streak and this peak in momentum at the right time could guide them to the playoffs.
3. Players to look out for
Ambati Rayudu: Rayudu has been one of the most consistent scorers for the Mumbai Indians and his 27-ball 53 against the Rajasthan Royals in his last outing was proof of that. The MI should bring him up the order to ensure consistency in their upper batting order. He could prove to be the key player for Mumbai against Chennai on Friday.
Mumbai Indians batsman Ambati Rayudu plays a shot during an IPL match against Rajasthan Royals in Mumbai. (PTI Photo)
Ashish Nehra: The Purple Cap holder has shaken off all doubts and injury concerns to make himself one of the most valuable bowlers this season. In his last outing, he scalped four wickets for just 19 runs against RCB. He could provide the vital breakthroughs against the in-form Mumbai batsmen.
Chennai Super Kings bowler Ashish Nehra celebrates the wicket of Mumbai Indians batsman Corey Anderson during their IPL T20 match in Mumbai. (PTI Photo)
4. Stat attack
MI: Harbhajan Singh has scored the fastest half-century in IPL this season. (19 balls vs Kings XI Punjab)
CSK: Ashish Nehra has the best bowling figures in IPL this season. (4/10 against Royal Challengers Bangalore)
MI: Rohit Sharma has hit the most fours in a single innings in IPL this season. (12 against Kolkata Knight Riders)
CSK: Brendon McCullum has the most sixes in an innings in the tournament after Chris Gayle(12). (9 against Sunrisers Hyderabad)
5. Match facts
When: Friday, May 8, 2015
What time: 8pm IST
Where: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai.
Umpires: Chris Gaffaney, O Nandan, Krishnaraj Srinath, Nitin Menon; Match referee: Rajendra Jadeja