CSK vs MI: Super clash minus the fervour
The El Clasico of the IPL — Mumbai Indians versus Chennai Super Kings — at the DY Patil Stadium on Thursday will be minus the fizz and excitement that is generally associated with the clash of the tournament’s two most successful teams. Both are languishing at the bottom of the 10 team-table with a combined one win in 12 games.
A win for Mumbai will give them a much-needed fillip while a loss will drift them towards the brink of elimination. Ditto for CSK.
The two sides have nine IPL titles between them from the 14 seasons so far, but February’s mega auction seems to have robbed them of their core group of players. Despite having astute white-ball leaders in charge, the teams have struggled mainly because their opening combination has let them down.
Mumbai Indians’ success has mainly revolved around their opening pair, solid batters in the middle-order with Jasprit Bumrah firing telling blows in the mid stages after overseas seamers had done the early damage.
Captain Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock have opened 37 times together, scoring 1269 runs between them leading to two consecutive titles in 2019 and 2020. But in the absence of De Kock, Ishan Kishan has been forced to open with Rohit, forcing a major rejig.
Suryakumar Yadav has also dropped down the order from his usual No.3 slot though he has struck form.
Rohit’s average in the first six matches this season is a mere 19. To make things worse, Ishan has not able to maintain his usual destructive form along with Kieron Pollard in the finisher’s role.
The bowling has been worse, with very little support for Bumrah. There’s been no replacement for Trent Boult or a quality spinner like Rahul Chahar. Perhaps the availability of Jofra Archer will prove to be useful next season.
CSK’s main worry has been Ruturaj Gaikwad’s form. The Orange Cap winner from last season had a best of 17 in the first five matches before bouncing back with a 73 against Gujarat Titans. It remains to be seen if he can maintain this consistency.
While Robin Uthappa has been among runs, Ambati Rayudu’s failure has put the middle-order under pressure.
Chennai have also been missing Deepak Chahar though Maheesh Theekshana’s impact in the Powerplay has been meaningful.