The Mumbai Indians and the Chennai Super Kings face-off in a high-voltage clash in the first qualifier of the Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The topsy-turvy qualification race is over and the Mumbai Indians are in a much better position now. Playing at home in the first qualifier, backed by the safety net of a second qualifier in case of a loss, MI will be running high on confidence.
During the initial games of the league phase, they were almost ruled out of the race after a string of defeats. MI have had a fluctuating season with consistency in getting a string of similar results - they lost and won games in clumps.
MI started at the bottom of the table with 4 losses out of first 5 games but then followed it up with 5 consecutive victories. They continued their good form and ended the league phase just below the table toppers - CSK.
But they owe their second-place finish to an illogical IPL rule.
CSK, the tournament favourites, now face a tough task against the MI in a hostile away ground. They will also be missing the services of their top run-getter Brendon McCullum, who has left for national duty.
After sitting out for the entire season, Micheal Hussey is now expected to fill in for McCullum - a tough task after the New Zealand captain amassed 436 runs in 14 games for CSK. Hussey's form will play a crucial factor in Tuesday's game.
Previous encounters between MI and CSK in this season saw them win one game each.
In the Mumbai game, CSK won by six wickets by chasing down Mumbai's 183 in 16.4 overs. Whereas, in the Chennai game, MI won by six wickets by chasing down Chennai's 158 with four balls remaining.The losing side in Tuesday's game will face the winner of the eliminator to be played on Wednesday between the Rajasthan Royals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Mumbai Indians icon Sachin Tendulkar along with Chennai Super Kings' Skipper MS Dhoni during their IPL-2015 match at MAC Stadium in Chennai. (PTI Photo)
Chennai Super Kings (WLWLW): They have been one of the most consistent sides over the years having made it to the 'last-four stage' in every IPL season.
Mumbai Indians (WWLWW): MI always win in clumps and is the only team to have 5 consecutive victories in the current season. On a run of 2 wins leading up to the qualifier, they will be looking to carry forward this momentum all the way to the final.
Players to look out for
The Mumbai Indians will rely heavily on the opening pair of Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel to provide them a launch pad from where the pinch hitters can take over.
But the one to keep an eye for is the MI captain - Rohit Sharma. Sharma, Mumbai's highest run-getter this season, will be expected to get the major chunk of the runs along with the big-hitting Kieron Pollard.
On the bowling front, MI's bowling spearhead Lasith Malinga with 19 wickets in 13 matches this season will be the one to look out for.
The lethal combo of Malinga-Mitchell McClenaghan may be too hot for the struggling CSK openers.
Mumbai Indians' Lasith Malinga gestures after dismissing David Warner of Sunrisers Hyderabad during the IPL match in Mumbai. (PTI Photo)
CSK will have to depend on Suresh Raina and Dwayne Smith, in the absence of McCullum, to stack up the runs. For his consistency and the ability to score under pressure, Raina could emerge as the CSK's key player.
In the bowling department, the purple cap holder Dwayne Bravo could be the key factor against the strong Mumbai batting line-up. He has 20 wickets in this season.
Suresh Raina of Chennai Super Kings in action against Royal Challengers Bangalore during an Indian Premier League (IPL) Season 8 match at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium
in Bangalore. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/ Hindustan Times)
CSK have won only 3 of their 7 away matches.
MI's Harbhajan Singh has scored the fastest half-century(19 balls vs Kings XI Punjab). He shares the honours with Andre Russel of KKR.
CSK have featured in the 'last-four stage' of every IPL season.
MI's Lendl Simmons has scored the second most number of half-centuries (4) behind David Warner (7).
CSK's Ashish Nehra has the best bowling figures (4 for 10 against Royal Challengers Bangalore).
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015.
Time: 8pm IST
Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.Weather: