If one goes by their clashes in this season's IPL then Mumbai Indians should beat the Chennai Super Kings in the eliminator round in Bengaluru. The system of giving an extra chance to the teams that finish in the top two in the league is a welcome one. The nature of limited overs cricket especially the ultra short version is such that a team that has won everything can have an off day and go out of the tournament, and therefore to reward the teams that finish in the top two with another opportunity to get to the finals, is a good one indeed. They can play freely in their clash knowing that they get another crack at the trophy.
That is not so for Mumbai Indians and the defending champions Chennai. Both have had an indifferent run into the playoffs with some stunning wins and some pretty ordinary losses. The confidence level will not be as high as it should be. The knockout nature of the clash will be a test of the temperament of the players.
Mumbai hold slight edge over Chennai
We have already seen how when teams came to the final round of the league, they clamped up, tightened and were unable to play freely in the must win matches. It is all very well to go out and have a blast in the lea
gue stage, knowing that even if they lose there is another match the next day or so. A knockout round is like playing in a match as opposed to playing in the nets.
In the nets there is always the next ball, but in a match a mistake means good bye hopes and that is the same in the knockout games. That is why teams like the Rajasthan Royals, Punjab, Bangalore got left behind as they just did not have the mental strength to stay the distance in a must win match.
Mumbai’s last match of the league may just have given them the opening combo that they need. Dwayne Smith was batting too low down the order and his promotion to the opening slot gives them just the impetus in case 'the master' is struggling a bit. It then creates a solid platform for the likes of Rohit Sharma, Rayudu and Pollard to do their slamming and put up a good total.
Here again we have seen that batting first when there is no pressure of the asking rate is a lot easier to hit the ball than while chasing. Rayudu has shown this year that he has graduated from being a first innings batsman to a match winner in the second innings too. Pollard too has done enough to dispel doubts about his temperament while chasing.
Chennai will be hoping that Raina comes good for he is one batsman, who settles down very quickly and can hit form the first ball. They have to find a way to give Albie Morkel more overs to bat, for he can change the course of the game with his big sixes.
It promises to be a thriller, much like most of this years matches.