Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will meet Mumbai Indians (MI) as the wait for 2021 Indian Premier League resumption finally ends on Sunday (September 19). The season returns after its suspension in May earlier this year due to COVID-19 cases inside squads of multiple franchises.
Rohit Sharma's Mumbai Indians -- also the defending champions and currently fourth in the table -- will be aiming to make a winning start against the high-flying CSK; currently second with 10 points. Incidentally, both sides played each other in their last match of the season before its suspension. Kieron Pollard's incredible all-round show proved to be the difference then, as he took two wickets and powered the MI to a four-wicket win with a scintillating 87-run unbeaten knock in just 34 deliveries.
As the two sides kickstart the resumption of the 2021 edition of the tournament, let's take a look at how CSK and MI performed in the first phase.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS
Current Position: 2nd.
After their worst-ever season in the Indian Premier League history in 2020 (7th-place finish), MS Dhoni's CSK have made an excellent comeback this year. The side stands a chance to go top of the table with a win over Mumbai Indians, as Delhi Capitals -- the current table-toppers -- have played an extra game and are level on points with the Super Kings.
Powered with the return of their star batsman Suresh Raina and a tweak in the batting order which saw Moeen Ali coming at number three, the Chennai Super Kings enjoyed a five-match winning run in the first leg after an opening-game defeat to Delhi Capitals.
The CSK defeated Punjab Kings (by 6 wickets), Rajasthan Royals (by 45 runs), Kolkata Knight Riders (by 18 runs), Royal Challengers Bangalore (by 69 runs) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (by 7 wickets) during the streak, before conceding a defeat to Rohit Sharma's MI.
CSK boast of power-hitting strength throughout their middle and lower-middle order, with the likes of Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, and Sam Curran producing sublime performances with the bat in the first leg. Suresh Raina also made important contributions and played an anchor role on most occasions, while their opening duo of Faf du Plessis (320 runs in seven innings) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (196 runs in seven innings) has provided strong starts for the side.
With the ball, Sam Curran (10 wickets in seven innings) and Deepak Chahar (8 wickets in seven innings) have been lethal, while Ravindra Jadeja (6 wickets in seven innings) has been largely successful in keeping the run-rates in check, bowling at an economical 6.70 rpo in the season so far.
Current Position: 4th
MI's title-defence started with a two-wicket defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the curtain-raiser of IPL 2021. With three defeats (to RCB, Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings), Rohit Sharma's side has been largely inconsistent - however, they ended the first leg on a strong note with two successive victories against Rajasthan Royals (by 7 wickets) and CSK (by 4 wickets).
The five-time IPL champions will derive strength from their incredible victory over MS Dhoni's men when they meet the Super Kings again on Sunday. Chasing a 219-run target, captain Rohit and Quinton de Kock forged a 71-run partnership in merely 7.4 overs before Krunal Pandya (32) siezed the opportunity at number 4. Kieron Pollard's blitzkrieg (87 off 34 deliveries) steered MI to a victory on the final delivery of the match.
In the UAE, the Mumbai Indians will be aiming for a repeat of the 2020 season when they defeated Delhi Capitals in the final. Like CSK, Mumbai will also have the same squad which participated in the first leg - however, the side will eye more consistency in the remaining games of the group stage to secure a playoff spot. With a win against CSK, Rohit's side can move up to 2nd position, displacing Chennai.