It had all started with this very fixture 35 days back at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Chennai Super Kings, despite not being the favourites in the contest owing to absence of two of their stars - Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh - had defeated the defending champions by a comprehensive margin. But fate took a sharp turn since then. Chennai managed only two more wins in their next nine matches to stand at the bottom of the table and brink of elimination, while Mumbai, the perennial slow starters, bounced back strongly to win six of their next eight matches to stand third.
At this stage of the competition, Chennai have always been the team to stand a step away from playoffs qualification. But following their seventh loss of the season earlier this week, captain MS Dhoni conceded that the season might be already over them, while head coach Stephen Fleming pointed out, the ageing squad may have finally "run out of juice".
CSK however have an outside chance of making it to the playoffs, if they win their remaining four games which wuld leave them with 14 points.
It is most likely that Dhoni and the management will get some untested players in the lineup for the Sharjah clash on Friday as admitted by the captain after the Rajastha Royals match.
Dhoni himself has not been at his best along with the others barring Faf du Plessis. The team's persistence with a struggling Kedar Jadhav has come in for a lot of flak and it needs to be seen if he makes way for either N Jagadeesan or Ruturaj Gaikwad.
However, they would be up against a formidable MI side which won five games in a row before Kings XI Punjab halted the juggernaut, turning the tables in a double Super Over on Sunday night.
The four-time IPL champions have been in ominous form and the varied bowling attack could prove a challenge for the CSK batters, who are low on confidence.
At Sharjah, which was a tough venue for bowlers to start with, things seem to have changed with the wicket slowing down and sort of evened out things.
That's not all, the power-hitting abilities of Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya have rescued MI when the big guns have not fired. Krunal Pandya has underlined his utility with some crucial cameos and tight spells in tandem with leggie Rahul Chahar.
The Mumbai bowling unit has been doing well but the think-tank may consider bringing in James Pattinson for Nathan Coulter-Nile, who has proved expensive.
A well-rounded and consistent Mumbai Indians unit could provide a huge challenge for an under-fire CSK battling to salvage some pride.
Two points on Friday match would take Rohit Sharma's men closer to sealing a play-offs berth while the Super Kings, who are theoretically still in with a chance, would aim to finish strongly in what has been a nightmare of a season so far.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C), M Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar, Piyush Chawla, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Josh Hazlewood, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Monu Kumar, R Sai Kishore, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Karn Sharma.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Digvijay Deshmukh, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, James Pattison, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Prince Balwant Rai, Quinton De Kock, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult.
Match starts at 7.30 PM IST.
(with PTI inputs)