Calcutta/Johannesburg: Their backs to the wall after two successive defeats, former winners Chennai Super Kings will look to tame an equally desperate defending champions Mumbai Indians to salvage any hope of a semi-final berth at the Champions League Twenty20 on Saturday.
But first, they will have to wait for the outcome of Saturday’s first match, between the Highveld Lions and Yorkshire. The Lions, with two wins in their kitty, will make the semis if they manage to garner full points.
That then will mean the end of the road for the two Indian sides in the group. However, a loss for the Lions would give them a lifeline.
The Super Kings had made a big splash when they won the Indian Premier League in 2010 and 2011 and also annexed the Champions League T20 title in 2010 but the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team failed to live up to their reputation in the latest edition of the Twenty20 event.
The Chennai-based team started their campaign with a 14-run loss to Sydney Sixers and then suffered a six-wicket defeat at the hands of the Lions last Tuesday. Given the situation, Dhoni has to come up with something special to take his team through to the semi-finals.
Mumbai too had a bumpy ride so far and are yet to win a match in the tournament. Coming into the tournament as the defending champions, the Harbhajan Singh-led side lost their opening match to Lions by eight wickets, while their next tie against Yorkshire was abandoned due to rain on Thursday.
With just two matches to go before the semi-final berth is decided, both CSK and MI will have to play out of their skins.
Mumbai Indians bowling coach and team mentor Shaun Pollock rued his team’s reduced chances to make it to the semi-finals. “It’s disappointing for us. The Lions have won two games and the way the schedule has been made, they play before us, which means qualification for the semi-final is out of our hands. That’s a bit sad. If they win that game, they’ll have already won three and the Sydney Sixers have won three as well.
“And even if we win our remaining two games, we’ll have only two and a half. We had to win Thursday’s game but you can’t control the weather. Unfortunately, ours was not the first game,” Pollock told the official website.
Pollock, however, refused to admit the fact that MI’s limited bowling options make it easier for the rivals to plan their innings. If one sees off Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga, the rest gets easy.
“No, it’s not thatů Dhawal Kulkarni bowled really well in the last IPL game he played, against the Chennai Super Kings; so he’s a fantastic prospect.
“We’ve got Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard. We also have Harbhajan and Pragyan Ojha; and we’ve seen in this tournament before that spinners have played a part. So no, we’re not over-dependent on Johnson and Malinga.”
Pollock reckoned that the team with the best pace attack would win the tournament.
“Having a good pace attack helps when it comes to making early inroads and putting the batting team under pressure. But teams with good balance in both batting and bowling will do best.
“The Lions and Titans have been very good since they know the conditions here. The Sydney Sixers have flourished since the conditions in Australia are similar to what they’re here.”
This edition’s CLT20 has so far been a nightmare for the IPL superpowers. The Kolkata Knight Riders, the IPL-V champions, have lost all their three matches so far to become the first team to be knocked out of the tournament.