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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Chennai keen to pile more misery on Mumbai Indian

sports Updated: Apr 27, 2018 17:56 IST

PUNE Barring Dwayne Bravo’s salvo, there wasn’t much to differentiate between Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians when they clashed in the IPL opener more than a fortnight ago.

Since then, their performance graph has gone in opposite directions. While Chennai have played with swag and grown in confidence under the stewardship of MS Dhoni, defending champions Mumbai have found the going tough, at times looking clueless when put under pressure.

When both clash in the return leg at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Saturday, Chennai will look to pile on more misery on Mumbai, who have won one of their six encounters, and strengthen their position in the standings.

What has worked in Chennai’s favour is that they have always found a player to take charge of the situation and guide them to victory. For Mumbai, while there have been odd impressive performances, no one has managed to lift them when the chips are down.

Right from first match when Bravo snatched victory from Mumbai with a 30-ball 69, Chennai have gone from strength to strength. The match-winning performances kept coming with batsmen backing the bowlers and vice versa.

The Bravo blitz was followed by Sam Billings’ power-packed 23-ball 56 against Kolkata Knight Riders. Dhoni almost saw them home with a quick-fire 44-ball 79 against Kings XI Punjab while carrying a back injury before falling short by four runs.

Shane Watson’s 57-ball 106 knocked the wind out of Rajasthan Royals’ sails in their first match in Pune. In the next encounter, Ambati Rayudu’s 37-ball 79 followed by Deepak Chahar’s three wicket opening burst dented Sunrisers Hyderabad’s hopes.

Rayudu, sent to open this time, set up the win against Royal Challengers Bangalore with a 53-ball 82 before Dhoni gave the finishing touches, staying composed in his 34-ball 70 as Chennai chased down the 200-plus mark for the second time this season.

On the other hand, the only time Mumbai seized the momentum was against RCB where skipper Rohit Sharma gave them the launch pad before bowlers restricted Virat Kohli & Co.

Otherwise, they have been close but not quite close enough to seal the deal. It also doesn’t help when four of your five defeats come in the last over.

A 31-run defeat at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last match at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday would have sunk their morale further especially after the bowlers knocked out Sunrisers for 118 but the batsmen failed to rise, in their first chase of the season. Bowled out for 87, it was Mumbai’s joint-lowest total in IPL’s history.

Rohit spoke about ‘showing character’ after the humiliating defeat. It remains to be seen how soon they pick themselves up and start their march towards the play-offs spots, which, on current form, looks like a distant dream.

The last time Mumbai lost five of their first six matches in 2015, they went on to win the title and Rohit & Co will have to take inspiration from that run as they start 2018’s rescue mission with a tough one against Chennai.