Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rohit Sharma Image Credit: PTI and AFP

Dubai: The first qualifier between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday promises to be a mouth-watering clash between two of the best teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Both Mumbai and Chennai have won the IPL title three times in 12 seasons so far.

All eyes will be on both captains and the way they will handle this high-voltage clash in the cricket-mad city of Chennai. Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma is known as the ‘Hitman’ while Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is called ‘Mr Cool’. Sharma personifies aggression and hence that would be what he would want from his teammates to halt the challenge from Chennai. Dhoni will use his cool attitude and his brilliant strategies to subdue opponents. The question in everyone’s mind will be can Mumbai hit Chennai’s ways of rising above their opponents in this match. Even the eliminator between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals will not have so much focus on the captains like as this qualifier.

Sharma’s ability to give a breezy start will play a vital role and so will Dhoni’s ability to lift the team at a crucial phase of the match.

For Chennai, many factors will have to fall into place. They need their openers Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis to give a good start and Suresh Raina should play another good knock to maintain the momentum. If that does not happen, they need Dhoni to produce his big hits including his helicopter shots to boost the innings. Their bowlers need to play their role effectively, though Dhoni uses them intelligently. As Mumbai would rely on their pacers, it is likely that the pitch will be made to assist spin. Chennai’s spinners Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja, whoever is picked to play, will have to deliver. Mumbai has hitters starting from their skipper and hence Chennai will have to ensure that none of them explodes and unleash their strokes.

Sharma and Quinton De Kock can give Mumbai a quick start. Their biggest advantage is their batting strength down the order with the dangerous Kieron Pollard and Pandya brothers. Hardik Pandya will be a crucial player and will have to play a vital role with the bat and the ball. His six-hitting ability is stupendous. In fact, Pandya candidly remarked about his ability to hit sixes after winning the man of the match on Sunday saying: “I have no clue where my six-hitting power comes from. Krunal (Pandya) was just telling me that I generate power with my hip and my core. I’ve just been hitting the ball since I was young. Eventually it became a habit, and now it’s going like it’s supposed to.”

Mumbai have a bowling attack starting from the brilliant death-over bowlers such as Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga backed by Pandya brothers. The nerves of every player will be put to test but both the teams are filled with experienced players. This also makes predicting the winner an impossible task and hence the battle may turn out to be an edge of the seat thriller.

Catch the match

First Eliminator

6.30pm: Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians

Match broadcast on beIN SPORTS 13

Final Standings

M W L Tied NR NRR Pts
1. MI 14 9 5 0 0 +0.421 18
2. CSK 14 9 5 0 0 +0.131 18
3. DC 14 9 5 0 0 +0.044 18
4. SRH 14 6 8 0 0 +0.577 12
5. KKR 14 6 8 0 0 +0.028 12
6. KXIP 14 6 8 0 0 -0.251 12
7. RR 14 5 8 0 1 -0.449 11
8. RCB 14 5 8 0 1 -0.607 11