Mumbai Indians host Chennai Super Kings at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, on Sunday, May 6, 2012.
The two sides are both in contention for a top four spot despite not having played their best cricket, a sure sign of championship quality.
While MI’s batting has not fired, their bowlers have more than made up, with Malinga in particular lethal in the death overs. Harbhajan has been feisty in his fierce desire to win matches that would have otherwise have been lost, as in the case of MI’s last game against Pune.
After several experiments with their opening partnership, Sunday’s hosts have finally settled on Franklin and Tendulkar. The latter has had several starts but not converted them to anything substantial and ominously for CSK, Sachin could score that big one against them. Among the others, Rayudu and Sharma have had a couple of match winning knocks between them while Karthik has disappointed. Pollard’s absence is a blow and MI will miss his big hitting in the late middle order apart from his brilliant fielding and more than useful bowling.
Peterson, Pollard’s replacement, is a trier and has given MI an additional option in the bowling department. Patel with his knack of getting breakthroughs alongside Ojha completes arguably the best bowling side of IPL 5.
CSK have struggled owing to their bowling which has lacked teeth, and as Dhoni has admitted, his batsmen have not scored the 10-15 addition runs needed to cover that lack. Strangely, CSK have split a brilliant opening partnership between Du Plessis and Badrinath, and the latter has been wasted down the order. Vijay who scored just 14 in the champions’ 10-run win against DC could find favour again underscoring team selection blunders that have marked their campaign this year. Raina who is due for a big one has developed an unhappy knack of getting out after settling down. Dhoni has not fired to potential while Morkel and Bravo have rescued the team on more than one occasion with their batting. Hilfenhaus, unimpressive in the DC game, could lose his place to Kulasekara, in a bowling line-up that has not been overly effective, with Bollinger not finding a place.
MI must be considered favourites, though given the format of the game and the desperation of both teams to qualify for the play offs, CSK could make Sunday’s game a repeat of the 2010 final when they bearded the lions in their own den.
MI’s probable eleven: Franklin, Tendulkar, Sharma, Rayudu, Peterson, Karthik, Harbhajan, Patel, Malinga, Ojha, Perera.
CSK’s probable eleven: Du Plessis, Vijay, Raina, Badrinath, Dhoni, Bravo, Morkel, Jadeja, Kulasekara, Ashwin, Jakati.
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