Ed Hawkins previews the tournament opener from the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday...
"Curran is crucial to Chennai's chances and will probably bat in the top five when he plays. He is not a 14/1 shot"
Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings
Saturday 19 September, 13:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Mumbai to adapt
Mumbai are the holders and pre-tournament favourites. But they are going to have to adapt their style and strategy if they are to defend their title.
At home in the Wankhede they rely on batting power. In the UAE they will need nous to recognise a good score and adopt variation with the ball. The latter is where they could struggle. They seem light on quality spin options with much resting on Rahul Chahar.
Their big decision will be two from Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell McClenaghan and Trent Boult. Coulter-Nile is vastly superior with the bat so it's probably a toss up between McClenaghan and Boult's left-arm style.
Possible XI Rohit (capt), de Kock (wk), Suryakumar, Kishan (wk), Hardik, Krunal, Pollard, Chahar, Coulter-Nile, McClenaghan, Bumrah.
Chennai look well equipped to mount a serious challenge for their fourth title. They have the requisite bowling stocks to do well on the UAE surfaces and a superb brains trust with MS Dhoni and Stephen Fleming making the calls.
We may have to wait a week until we know they are on the money. Sam Curran will need to acclimatise after arriving from England so he's unlikely to play but when available he is a must, providing their only left-arm pace option. For now they will decide on whether Lungi Ngidi, Faf Du Plessis or Dwayne Bravo gets the final two overseas slots with Shane Watson and Imran Tahir locks.
They are so strong in the spin department. Tahir, Piyush Chawla, Ravi Jadeja and Kedar Jadav are fantastic options. Deepak Chahar is excellent up front with pace.
Probable XI Gaikwad, Watson, Rayudu, Dhoni (capt & wkt), Jadav, Jadeja, Bravo, Chawla, Chahar, Tahir, Ngidi
Last year head-to-heads in Eng-land
MI 149-8 (Pollard 41*, Chahar 3-26) defended CSK 148-7 (Watson 80, Bumrah 2-14)
MI 132-4 (Yadav 71*, Tahir 2-33) chased CSK 131-4 (Rayudu 42*, Chahar 2-14)
MI 155-4 (Sharma 67, Santner 1-13) defended CSK 109 (Vijay 38, Krunal 2-7)
MI 170-5 (Yadav 59, Jadeja 1-10)defended CSK 133-8 (Jadav 58, Hardik 3-20)
Overall MI 18 CSK 12
In the 97 Twenty20s played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, the average score is 138. Filtering in progressive run rates a total of 145 is expected. It looks extremely unlikely that this is going to be a venue where the team batting first needs to bust a gut. Of the last 17 matches, stretching back to 2019, the toss bias stands at 59% for the chaser. As more and more matches are played on the surface it will be interesting to see whether that bias holds.
Chaser has edge
They call this the 'El Clasico'. The two most consistent sides in the IPL are capable of producing a thriller - like last year's final which goes down as one of the greatest T20s of all time.
Still, despite the hype they are rarely competitive. Mumbai dominated Chennai last term and they have now won eight of the last nine. It's not hugely surprising that Mumbai are favourites at 4/51.81 with Chennai 6/52.20.
Chennai will hope the surfaces are a great leveller in the UAE. A big weakness for them is their heavy right-handed combination which is vulnerable to leg spin or left-arm spin. Rahul Chahar is the man they need to see off. As for Mumbai Chennai's army of spin will make them nervous.
Both teams would rather chase and if CSK get the chance we would be surprised if they didn't at least trade short favourites.
With win rates of 17% and 15.6% on the top bats in the last two years, Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock are big Bismarcks at 11/4 each with Sportsbook. Particularly Rohit who is Deepak Chahar's bunny. Suryakumar Yadav is the value (28.9%) at 9/2. Kieron Pollard (16.9%) is also a wrong price at 13/2.
For CSK, Ambati Rayudu (21.5%) is chunky indeed at 5/1 with Watson and Du Plessis on the skinny side. Dhoni (19.6) is also underrated at 6/1. Curran is crucial to their chances and will probably bat in the top five when he plays. He is not a 14/1 shot. With the ball, the top pick is Lungi Ngidi at 4s for the Kings. We rate him at around the 5/2 mark.
IPL Preview Show Part I
IPL Preview Show Part II