Three-time IPL winners Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings will take each other on in Qualifier 1 of IPL 2019 on Tuesday. It is set to be a classic battle of analysis and instincts at the Chepauk -– while Mumbai Indians are loaded heavily with data and strategies, the Super Kings, as Dhoni himself admits, employ a more reactive approach.
CSK looked like a hastily-assembled group of individuals in the absence of Dhoni this season. And so, a lot would depend on the master-architect CSK captain when the side hosts Rohit Sharma’s men at Chepauk.
Mumbai Indians sprung into form towards the closing stages of this season – which is not new for the franchise. Rohit Sharma emphasized on the importance of the “business-end” of the season after the win against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday as well. The captain himself had a shaky start to the season, but his form improved as the playoffs approached.
As both the sides meet to secure a place in the final of the tournament, we look at some of the key player battles in the contest:
Rohit Sharma vs Dwayne Bravo
The Mumbai Indians skipper faced significant trouble facing the West Indian pacer. Bravo has picked up Rohit’s wicket on five occasions in the IPL, and MS Dhoni could surprise the MI captain by bowling the pacer early in the innings.
Alternatively, Dhoni can also opt for spin bowling to begin the innings. In both the games this season, Rohit was caught off-guard by Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner. The latter caused serious trouble to Rohit in their second meeting at Wankhede Stadium. While the Mumbai Indians’ opener scored a blistering 67 off 48 balls, Santner finished his quota of four overs with an economy rate of 3.25, including two wickets.
Quinton de Kock vs Deepak Chahar
The South African wicketkeeper-batsman has been on song for Mumbai Indians this season. He’s currently the highest run-scorer for the franchise this year as well.
However, in Qualifier 1, he faces a stiff competition in Deepak Chahar.
De Kock has struggled against the CSK pacer in both the games. Chahar’s ability to swing the new ball caused significant trouble for the Mumbai Indians opener. As MS Dhoni prefers to bowl Chahar out in the initial stages of the innings, expect a tense battle between the two.
Pandya Jr’s contribution in the lower-middle order has been crucial for Mumbai Indians this season. Interestingly, so has been Imran Tahir’s in the middle overs for CSK.
It will be a fascinating contest between the two top performers of both the sides. Hardik Pandya’s approach, given the situation he comes at, is unlikely to change even if he takes on Imran Tahir. The South African’s prowess, complimented by a spin-friendly pitch in Chepauk, could prove troublesome as well.
This could well be a match-defining contest in the game.
MS Dhoni vs Jasprit Bumrah
The CSK captain has emerged as the backbone of the side’s batting order this season. Chennai’s performances with the bat have been underwhelming this season, but Dhoni rescued his side with match-saving displays on numerous occasions.
This time, he would take on Jasprit Bumrah – arguably the most lethal death overs bowler in cricket at the moment.
Dhoni prefers to shift gears towards the final overs of the game but Bumrah’s accuracy could hamper the CSK captain’s plans.
Du Plessis was a rare delight in CSK’s batting order alongside MS Dhoni this season. The South African batsman has so far amassed 314 runs in 9 games, with an average of almost 40.
Lasith Malinga, on the other hand, had an eventful season which included detours to Sri Lanka to take part in a domestic tournament.
However, the physical exertion hasn’t hindered Malinga’s contribution to MI’s bowling attack.
The Sri Lankan pacer played a crucial supporting role for Jasprit Bumrah, taking 15 wickets in 10 games. The contest between Malinga and Du Plessis could set the tone for CSK’s batting performance in the game.