Mumbai hold slight edge over Chennai
Mumbai defeated Chennai in both the league games and going by present form and record, the Harbhajan Singh-led side start as favourites against the title holders at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium tomorrow.
Chennai should consider themselves lucky and thank Deccan Chargers for keeping the team in the hunt for a hat-trick of titles. Chennai made the last-four cut on net run rate after Royal Challengers Bangalore lost by nine runs to Deccan in their must-win final league game.
Mumbai, however, advanced to the next stage in style, thrashing Rajasthan Royals by 10 wickets in their last league game.
And expectedly, Mumbai would be oozing with confidence going into tomorrow`s match. But complacency is something which they need to guard against as from here on one bad day in office will jeopardise their title hopes.
Mumbai, who have never lost any IPL game in Bangalore, appear to be a cohesive team this season. The most heartening thing for Mumbai would be the return to form of Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith.
Chasing 163, Tendulkar (58 not out) and Smith (87 not out) put up a brilliant opening partnership to romp home with 10 wickets in hands against Rajasthan the other day.
Smith`s promotion to the opening slot to partner Tendulkar paid rich dividends for Mumbai in their last league game.
Mumbai`s batting order finally looks settled with Rohit Sharma, West Indian Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu and James Franklin sharing the burden of the middle order.
Rohit is in good nick with a hundred under his belt but he lacks consistency. Tendulkar, on the other hand, looked in great touch against Rajasthan en route to his second half century of the tournament.
Mumbai`s bowling also has a lethal look with Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga at the helm.
But Dhawal Kulkarni`s brilliant three for 18 performance against Rajasthan augurs well for Mumbai after Munaf Patel went off runs in recent games.
However, the only worry on the bowling front remains skipper Harbhajan`s poor form, but given the off-spinner`s fighting quality, he could come to the party at any time.
Chennai, on the other hand, would definitely like to utilise the lucky chance they got.
Chennai might have not shown the invincibility of the last couple of years, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s boys are well aware that performances of the league stages will hardly count here.
Even though they have not played like a team so far this season, Chennai players very well know that three good days in office from here on will erase all the bad memories of the league stages. The title holders were undone by the inconsistent performances of their star players in the ongoing tournament.
After gaining momentum in the business end of the tournament with three consecutive wins, Chennai slumped to an unexpected low when they lost by six wickets against Kings XI Punjab in their last league game.
With the likes of Faf du Plesis Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Mike Hussey, Albie Morkel and Dwayne Bravo up their sleeve, Chennai boast of a strong batting line-up. But given the form of Raina, Dhoni and million-dollar buy Ravindra Jadeja, CSK have lacked a finisher which might prove to be the decisive factor against a never-say-die Mumbai. Australian Ben Hilfenhaus and lanky off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will hold the fort for Chennai in the bowling department.