| Sachin Tendulkar |
Bangalore: Mumbai Indians have won both the league games against Chennai Super Kings and they will surely enjoy an edge over the defending champions when they meet in the IPL eliminator, here, on Wednesday.
But it will be foolish to write off Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men. They may have been quite lucky qualifying of the play-offs. But, in the last-four stage, things will be different.
Chennai Super Kings have qualified for the last-four stages all the five time of which they have played final thrice and won the last two times. So, they know it very well what it takes to go all the way.
On the other-hand, going by present form and record, the Mumbai Indians will start as a confident lot.
They advanced to the next stage in style, thrashing Rajasthan Royals by 10 wickets in their last league game.
But complacency is something they need to guard against as from here on one bad day in office will jeopardise their title hopes.
Mumbai Indians, who have never lost any IPL game in Bangalore, appear to be a cohesive team this season.
The most heartening thing for Mumbai will be the return to form of Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith. Chasing 163, Tendulkar (58 not out) and Smith (87 not out) put up a brilliant partnership against Rajasthan Royals the other day.
Mumbai Indians’ batting order finally looks settled with Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu and James Franklin sharing the burden of the middle order.
Rohit is in good nick with a hundred under his belt but he lacks consistency. Sachin, on the other hand, looked in great touch against the Royals en route to his second half century of the tournament.
Mumbai Indians’ bowling also has a lethal look with Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga at the helm.
However, the only worry on the bowling front remains Harbhajan’s poor form, but given the off-spinner’s fighting quality, he could come to the party at any time.
CSK should consider themselves lucky and thank Deccan Chargers for keeping them in the hunt for a hat-trick of titles. They made the last-four cut on net run rate after Royal Challengers Bangalore lost by nine runs to Deccan in their must-win final league game.
Though CSK might not have shown the invincibility of the last couple of years, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. are well aware that performances of the league stages will hardly count here.
Even though they have not played like a team so far this season, the CSK players very well know that three good days in office from here on will erase all the bad memories of the league stages.
The title-holders were undone by the inconsistent performances of their star players in the ongoing tournament.
After gaining momentum in the business end of the tournament with three consecutive wins, Chennai slumped to an unexpected low when they lost by six wickets against Kings XI Punjab in their last league game.
With the likes of Faf du Plesis, Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Mike Hussey, Albie Morkel and Dwayne Bravo up their sleeve, CSK boast of a strong batting line-up.