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IPL 2019, qualifier 1: Mumbai Indians back to give CSK fresh bowling test at home

A win in Tuesday’s Qualifier 1 will not only ensure a passage to the final but also provide three extra days to recover.

cricket Updated: May 07, 2019 12:07 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Chennai
IPL 2019,playoffs,Mumbai Indians
Lasith Malinga of Mumbai Indians celebrates after taking the wicket of Dwayne Bravo Chennai Super Kings during the VIVO IPL T20 cricket match between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians in Chennai, India, Friday, April 26, 2019(AP)

The only time Chennai Super Kings fans left the MA Chidambaram Stadium with a sense of despair this IPL season, Mumbai Indians were laughing in the visitors’ dugout.

The three-time champions led by Rohit Sharma halted a streak that began in 2015, inflicting the first-ever loss on CSK in their home turf in four years. The victors return to the fortress of the MS Dhoni-led defending champions; only this time the stakes are higher.

A win in Tuesday’s Qualifier 1 will not only ensure a passage to the final but also provide three extra days to recover. After a gruelling month-and-a-half of action in summer heat, any team will happily accept the mini-break before going into the title clash, in Hyderabad on May 12.

It’s only fitting the two most consistent sides in IPL have got the chance to earn that advantage.

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Kedar Jadhav factor

No team backs their players like CSK. Opener Shane Watson, when he ended a patchy run with a 53-ball 96 against Sunrisers Hyderabad last month, admitted he would have been ‘dropped long ago’ had he been in some other team.

The reluctance to experiment, however, leaves the bench largely untested. And that can prove a disadvantage if one of the regulars misses out due to injury. Kedar Jadhav was persisted with despite a poor run in the middle order. He suffered a shoulder injury while fielding in Sunday’s loss to Kings XI Punjab, and according to coach Stephen Fleming, he will miss the rest of the IPL.

Some reports suggest the member of India’s World Cup squad will be fit in two weeks. A CSK official said an MRI will be done on Monday and only after that can an accurate assessment of the injury be done. In Jadhav’s absence, CSK may choose between Dhruv Shorey and Murali Vijay.

Both have played just one game each this season and could be rusty facing the potent bowling arsenal of MI, despite MS Dhoni – CSK’s top run-getter with 368 runs in 12 games – to back up. Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina too are in form and that should help share the batting burden.

Mumbai Indians bowling

“We always wanted to create a bowling unit which can control situations because we know batsmen will score runs. We have enough quality and option. It gives Rohit enough options to attack any opposition. (Lasith) Malinga and (Jasprit) Bumrah make for a potent bowling attack. We can use them in different times. Hardik as well has bowled at the back end in fairly good games,” MI coach Mahela Jayawardene said after Sunday’s win over Kolkata Knight Riders at home.

Add in-form spinners Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar and MI’s options look solid.

Rohit Sharma will feel good going into the vital game after scoring a half-century against KKR. His patient half-century on a slow Chepauk pitch on April 26 was a lesson on tackling challenging conditions where the batsman’s skills come into play. The powerplay overs are generally low-scoring, but patience pays off.

Under Rohit, MI’s other batting stalwarts Quinton de Kock and Kieron Pollard too have flourished. Although they have won in Chepauk this season, to repeat it, they need to negate the spin of Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja. Pacer Deepak Chahar has also been consistent.

Injury or no injury, both teams are stacked with performers. It will be a clash of the titans here on Tuesday, with the final spot a worthy reward for the winners.

First Published: May 07, 2019 09:06 IST