Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians
Sunday 12 May, 15:30
TV: live on BT Sport
Chennai can bowl but can't bat
Chennai are in their eighth final and eyeing back-to-back titles. A fourth IPL crown will confirm their position as the most dominant franchise. How many would they have won if they had not been banned for two years?
They haven't looked as slick as in the past with the bat. Chennai have been reliably ponderous - particularly in the first six overs - and their chasing efforts follow a similar pattern. Start sluggishly, lose wickets, get into a mess and then recover. Of seven of the lowest two-over scores this tournament, Chennai are responsible for five of them.
Perhaps knockout cricket has focussed the mind. Against Delhi Capitals in the eliminator they eschewed this form and chased like a title winner should. Both Faf Du Plessis and Shane Watson, who has had an awful tournament, made fifties.
There's nothing wrong with the bowling, though. Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravi Jadeja have been the most effective spin-bowling unit in the tournament. Tahir needs two wickets to usurp Kagiso Rabada as top wicket-taker. Deepak Chahar, the pacer, has not been too shabby, either. He is fifth on that list.
Mumbai Indians have had a strange season. They have topped the league, won four of the last five and yet still managed to throw in some absolute stinkers. Two defeats to Rajasthan for example and a hammering against Kings XI.
Maybe it's not that strange. They are often slow starters and, as Kings would testify, there is not point being strong at the start. It's how you finish. And Mumbai have gone into overdrive.
They have a well-balanced XI. Quinton de Kock, Rohit Sharma (although he will surely be disappointed with his runs return), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard have been excellent. No franchise has a top five as consistent. With the ball Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga and Hardik have dovetailed well. Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar have spun with aplomb.
Most importantly, they know how to beat Chennai. They have thumped them thrice this season and have won seven of the last eight. Whereas most teams have klet the CSK batting off the hook, Mumbai have not.
Four in a row for MI?
A mixed bag at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium this year. The first-innings scores (most recent first, 1-2 denote match wonby side batting first or second) read: 212-1/159-2/132-2/155-1/231-1/198-2. Chennai were well beaten there by Sunrisers when posting only 132. Not a great omen. Overall the first-innings average is 163.
Chennai can bowl but can't bat
Not surprisingly, Mumbai are favourites at 1.9010/11 with Chennai 2.19. It would be going against the tide somewhat to reckon Chennai can do it with three solid examples suggesting the title is in Mumbai's pocket.
The issue is their batting. It has been awful. In the first contest they barely seemed interested in chasing 170. That set the tone. Every time they have come up against Mumbai they have been in a stupor; bowled out for 109 and then managing only 131 batting first in the eliminator. They have a significant issue with Malinga, who has seven wickets, and Chahar who they cannot get off the square.
To reckon Chennai are the value you'd have to believe they will be woken from their slumber. But there's no evidence for that. It is arguable Mumbai should be shorter than they are.
Given the Chennai go-slow there is nothing wrong with considering biggish prices about middle- to lower-order batsmen for top bat. MS Dhoni is the most obvious call at 5/1 (Sportsbook). Dwayne Bravo at 14s is notable. Ambati Rayudu and DHoni hit 42 and 37 not out respectively in the qualifier. Rayudu is 9/2.
Big hitters hove into view
Yadav has two top-bat efforts in three against Chennai and is 7/2. Rohit is favourite at 23/10 and that has to be the wrong call. He's too short on that price for hit-rate and De Kock is outscoring him by a distance. De Kock gets at 11/4 quote. We like Pollard and Hardik at 7s.