Ask the big stars from either teams, and they will tell you this is the fixture that excites them the most often in the Indian Premier League. It is, after all, the battle of the two most successful sides in the tournament. Rohit Sharma’s elegance and Suryakumar Yadav’s flamboyance will be pitted against the experience of Faf du Plessis and grace of Ruturaj Gaikwad when heavyweights Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings cross swords in Delhi on Saturday.
Five-time winners MI and three-time winners CSK head into the match after identical seven-wicket wins over Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively (same target, achieved with same number of balls and wickets to spare) and both teams would be keen to continue that momentum.
Historically, the record favours MI over CSK, and more so in the last three seasons since the Chennai team’s return to the league. That is helped by a 4-0 sweep of MI against CSK in IPL 2019, with the teams splitting the record 1-1 in 2018 and 2020.
Head to head MI vs CSK
|Matches||MI wins||CSK wins|
|Chennai Super Kings||6||5||1||+1.475||10|
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||7||5||2||-0.171||10|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||7||2||5||-0.494||4|
IPL 2021 form table
|Team||Last 5 matches, recent first|
|Chennai Super Kings||W W W W W|
|Delhi Capitals||W L W W W|
|Royal Challengers Bangalore||L W L W W|
|Mumbai Indians||W L L W W|
|Punjab Kings||W L W L L|
|Kolkata Knight Riders||L W L L L|
|Rajasthan Royals||L W L L W|
|Sunrisers Hyderabad||L L W L L|
The big positive for Mumbai would the return to form of opener Quinton de Kock (117 runs), who made a blistering, unbeaten 70 against Rajasthan.
The faltering Mumbai middle-order also clicked in the previous game, on a comparatively easy batting track compared to the one at the Chepauk.
Suryakumar would need to convert his starts while Krunal Pandya (68 runs) played a useful cameo at No 4 in place of Ishan Kishan, which would have bolstered his confidence. He would be keen to take it forward from where he left. Kieron Pollard also displayed his hard-hitting skills on Thursday and would be raring to go once again, and so would fellow all-rounder Hardik Pandya.
Pacers Jasprit Bumrah has been exceptional, particularly at the death, and would need to perform again to contain the in-form CSK batters.
Leggie Rahul Chahar, with 11 wickets, has been MI’s leading wicket-taker. It remains to be seen whether Mumbai persists with Nathan Coulter-Nile or get Ishan Kishan back in the playing XI, which could mean that Pollard would have to chip in with the ball if needed.
Meanwhile, table-toppers CSK have been a force to reckon with this season, having won five of their six games. Openers du Plessis (270 runs) and Ruturaj (192 runs) have been in top form and would be keen to provide the team with another strong start.
Their middle-order has also been among runs. Moeen Ali has adjusted well to the role of pinch-hitter, while the presence of the ever-reliable Suresh Raina gives the team a cushion. MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu have been playing cameos and are yet to hit top gear. Add Englishman Sam Curran and CSK can take any attack apart when in form.
CSK bowlers led by Deepak Chahar (8 wickets) and Curran (6 wickets) have done a splendid job, while Shardul Thakur could be decisive in breaking partnerships. Jadeja has also shone with the ball, taking five wickets while Moeen has four and all of them would be hoping to be at their best against Mumbai.
Key players to watch out for (in form):
Quniton de Kock (MI): The South African opener found his form back as the team moved from Chennai to Delhi, with teams so far finding the pitch at the capitals better than the slow-turner that was expected. It could change with time, but de Kock certainly seemed more at home at his former home venue.
Jasprit Bumrah (MI): The pacer has once again been fantastic when bowling pressure overs for large parts of this season so far. His two overs at the death have proved to be the clincher for MI and he will want to continue delivering on that front against the lower-order firepower that CSK possess.
Rahul Chahar (MI): The spinner has been among the wickets for MI this season, even when he has been going for runs and that is a valuable asset. Jayant Yadav could play a more key role against a left-heavy CSK batting unit but Chahar is the bigger wicket-taking option.
Faf du Plessis (CSK): The battle of South African openers could prove decisive on the night. While de Kock is just hitting his stride, his former international captain has been in good touch for a few matches and will once again look to provide CSK a solid start with his gap-finding radar that has been working like a treat.
Deepak Chahar (CSK): He has been a hit and miss so far this season, but when he has clicked, he has clicked in game-changing style. A wicket or two from in the powerplay could test MI’s yet-to-fire-on-all-cylinders middle order.
Ravindra Jadeja (CSK): How can Jadeja top the performance he produced against RCB this season? CSK would just hope he keeps producing performances half as good as that one. His bowling and fielding are important assets, no doubt. But his batting at the death is a big area of improvement, and against Bumrah, he will have his task cut out if he is in the middle for those overs.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Adam Milne, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Arjun Tendulkar, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, James Neesham, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Marco Jansen, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Quinton De Kock (wk), Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult, Yudhvir Singh.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, R Sai Kishore, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujra, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishaanth.
Match starts at 7.30 PM IST.
With PTI inputs
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