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Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 20 May 2013 - 09:37pm IST

Preview : Qualifier 1 – CSK vs MI

Can MI magic stump CSK’s aspirations of a direct entry?

What

Two-time champions Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians go head to head in Qualifier 1 of the Pepsi IPL 2013. There is no doubting that these have been the top two teams in the competition even if they suffered defeats in their final league matches of the regular season. Royal Challengers Bangalore got the better of CSK in a rain-affected match at Bengaluru, while Mumbai Indians were blown away by Kings XI Punjab at Dharamsala.

There is little that separates the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians.
Both teams have won 11 matches and are only separated by a difference of 0.09 in the Net Run Rate factor. Man to man, CSK score ahead of their opponents on the batting front, while MI’s bowling attack boasts of four international class bowlers. Both teams are blessed with a lot of experience, have several match winners in their line-up and have converted lost-causes into wins.

Overall though, one should consider CSK to be favourites heading into this contest, for, they have made it to this stage in every season of the IPL so far and have the experience of playing in such high-stakes matches. MS Dhoni’s team also have been the best travelers this season having won five of their seven away matches while the Mumbai Indians only managed three wins on the road.

In their matches at Delhi earlier this season, CSK defeated hosts Delhi Daredevils by a mammoth 86 runs and MI lost to DD by 9 wickets despite posting 161 on the board.

When

Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 8 p.m

Where

Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi

The Protagonists

Not only are Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni the top three run-getters of the Chennai Super Kings of this season, they are the three most important batsmen in the line-up – in the same order too. Almost whenever Hussey scores runs, CSK go on to win. Hussey sets the tone at the top of the order and has the strokes to turn on the heat at the end. Batting at number three, Raina has won CSK many matches single-handedly and will be expected to come good again. Dhoni has promoted himself to bat at number four – and given how good a striker he is, and the kind of form he has displayed during this season, it is fair to expect some fireworks from him too.

Sachin Tendulkar played some stunning strokes in the three innings before injury forced him to miss the matches against Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab.

Question marks remain over his participation in this match; if he is declared unavailable to play, MI will need to choose between Glenn Maxwell and Dwayne Smith and hope they can get them off to a solid start. But the two batsmen who have been the pillar for MI so far are wicket-keeper Dinesh Karthik and skipper Rohit Sharma. For MI to do well, it is important that either of Karthik or Sharma - batting at numbers three and four respectively - get a big score. Also look out for Kieron Pollard, who is capable of causing a lot of damage in very little time.

The quick bowlers in both teams have been equally good – even if MI score over CSK on class and experience. However, given that the pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium has historically aided the spinners, all eyes will be on R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from CSK and Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha for MI.

Previous Meetings

In contests between the Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, it is certainly the latter who hold the edge, given they have won eight of the 13 matches between the two teams.

Even in the two meetings between the two teams this season, it was the Mumbai Indians who triumphed. In the first meeting at Chennai, MI posted a competitive 148 on the board and then restricted the hosts to 139 for nine to win by nine runs.

In the second meeting at Mumbai, Mumbai Indians posted a modest 139 and then dismissed CSK for 79 – their lowest total in the IPL – to win by 60 runs.

Despite their poor record against the Mumbai Indians, CSK have always won when matches which have mattered most. They defeated the Mumbai Indians in the Final of IPL 2010 and brought an end to the Mumbai Indians run in IPL 2011 by defeating them in the Eliminator.

Trivia

Off the 12 times Michael Hussey has scored 50 or more, CSK have gone on to win 11 times.

Pragyan Ojha has outstanding numbers when playing against CSK; in 11 matches he has 18 wickets and an economy rate of 5.89.
CSK skipper MS Dhoni has only won seven tosses in 16 matches this season. Overall, he has won the toss in only 43 of the 94 matches he has led CSK in.

What Next

The winner will progress straight to the title-clash on May 26 and the loser in this match will have a second chance at making it to the final when they clash with the winner of the Eliminator (Rajasthan Royals v Sunrisers Hyderabad) in Qualifier 2 on May 24.

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