Ed Hawkins previews a clash which could ultimately be the final and he expects a tight contest in Chepauk on Friday...
"Chahar is second in strike rates this season only to Lasith Malinga with 17.3 playing 16.6. In eight innings out of ten a spinner would have won you a wager or notched shared honours at the venue"
Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians
Friday 25 April, 15:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Chennai back to best
Chennai put a mid-term slump behind them with a strong showing against Sunrisers Hyderabad last time out. After two defeats on the road they were happy to return to home comforts and they expertly dealt with the pre-tournament favourites.
At one stage, they looked to be in trouble. David Warner was on the runway and Manish Pandey had taken off. At least 190 was on the cards. But all that nous and experience from the bowling unit came to the fore to restrict Sunrisers to 175.
Spin was key. Harbhajan Singh, Ravi Jadeja and Imran Tahir worked in tandem to keep Sunrisers in check and we're not sure suggestions they struggled is fair. And although the wicket was truer than previously seen, tweak is essential at the venue.
In the chase, Chennai started slowly as they tend to. But Shane Watson (96) finally found form and his combination with Suresh Raina got them in pole. It went to the last over - another Chennai chase trait - but there were no alarms.
Mumbai tough to predict
Mumbai Indians are down to third as inconsistency continues to plague them. Just when it looked like they were going to put something formidable together, they produced a powderpuff performance against Rajasthan Royals.
After posting a decent 161, they never looked like restraining the Royals, who were without Jos Buttler. At times, their attack has looked oddly impotent despite excellent depth. Wristspinners like Mayank Markande and Rahul Chahar are dangerous while pace options include Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell McClenaghan and Jason Behrendorff.
To that end they have strengthen with the capture of Beuran Hendricks, the South African tyro. If Hendricks debuts in this one Ben Cutting is most likely to make way considering Mumbai's strength in the all-rounder department.
The MA Chidambarram has looked sticky all season with batters struggling for fluency. Chennai chased with ease, though, last time against Sunrisers and that was probably down to some rain taking some of the dryness out of the surface. It's been scorching since, though, and we could well see a wicket more in line with previous first-dig scores of 108, 160 and 70. A play of under 160 could be shrewd.
Both teams to tarde short favourites
Chennai are 1.804/5 and Mumbai 2.1211/10. With a convincing win over Chennai under their belts earlier this season the visitors are unlikely to be overawed.
Indeed, they may well reckon that stodgy wickets in Jaipur and Delhi (where they pinned down the Capitals) are ideal preparation. They have the roster to compete, too with Markande, Chahar and Krunal Pandya ideal for the surface.
At the very least we expect Mumbai to trade as favourites. Chennai's batting is deep and consistent insofar as they can get into a muddle but often get out of it. This should be a good trading game.
Grafters to the fore
Watson's return to form will make him a popular top Chennai bat wager at 10/3 (Sportsbook) but with the wicket set to return to the sluggish side Raina and MS Dhoni might be smarter bets at 4/1 and 9/2 respectively. Quinton de Kock is 11/4 jolly for Mumbai with Rohit Sharma rated at 3s. it is possible they might need same late, lusty blows from the likes of Krunal and the 8s is not shabby by any stretch.
Chahar and Harbhajan underrated
Chahar is catching the eye at 10/3 (Sportsbook) for top Chennai bowler, although it's a price only worth taking if Mumbai bowl first because of the way Sunrisers' spinners couldn't grip the ball well because of dew. Chahar is second in strike rates this season only to Lasith Malinga with 17.3 playing 16.6. In eight innings out of ten a spinner would have won you a wager or notched shared honours at the venue. If Mumbai don't bowl first, fret not. Harbhajan Singh is a crazy 4/1 for Chennai honours. No Super King can match is rate of a wicket every 13.3 balls, although Dwayne Bravo at 13.4 is in the same area.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l