Chennai have tough task at hands against Mumbai

Mumbai: Having suffered two defeats in as many away games, defending champions Chennai Super Kings face an uphill task when they take on last year`s runners-up Mumbai Indians in a high-voltage Indian Premier League match here tomorrow.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Super Kings have blown hot and cold this season. While they have defeated the opposition in their home venue, they have been tripped by an unknown Mumbaikar Paul Valthaty of Kings XI Punjab in Mohali and then by debutants Kochi Tuskers Kerala in their second away game.

Dhoni and his band of warriors, who won both last year`s IPL and Champions League in South Africa to make it a memorable double, would be anxious to put it across Tendulkar`s Mumbai Indians here at the Wankhede Stadium.

Mumbai will be the favourites in tomorrow`s match, having made a storming start to their quest of clinching the T20 League crown, which they had missed narrowly in 2010.

Both Mumbai and Chennai are aware of each other`s strengths and weaknesses as they retained most of their players from last year`s campaign.

Chennai`s batting has come good in all four ties, although the rain interruption in Kochi two days ago had upset Dhoni`s calculations as the match got reduced to a 17-over affair midway through their innings.

It`s the bowling, however, which is the major concern of the visitors, who are languishing in the bottom half of the points table, as they have allowed the opposition batsmen to run riot, even when defending seemingly adequate totals.

In three matches out of four, the Super Kings have crossed the 150-run mark — winning their lung opener against Kolkata Knight Riders by only two runs after making 153, while losing to Valthaty`s amazing aggression at Mohali after having posted 188 for four against Kings XI Punjab.

But even while defending 183 against Bangalore at home in their third game of the tournament, the Super Kings allowed their rivals to rattle up 162, a clear sign that the bowling has not been up to the mark.

Against a team like Mumbai, with batting maestro Tendulkar in a sublime form and Ambati Rayudu, too, in red-hot touch, the Chennai bowlers need to step up their performance.

One of the reasons for Chennai`s mixed display has been the indifferent form of all-rounder Albie Morkel, who has not really done his job either with the bat or the ball. The fact that he was one of the four that the franchise retained ahead of the players` auction, shows how important the South African is to their scheme of things.