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Eliminator - the second of the four Playoff matches of Pepsi IPL 2014 will see a contest between the teams who finished third and fourth in the standings. Two-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings, who finished third with nine wins in the league stage, will be pitted against the defending champions, Mumbai Indians, who scraped past the Rajasthan Royals in the final league match of the season.
Post qualifying for the Playoffs, the Chennai Super Kings suffered a few hiccups when they lost three matches in a row. But they come into the Eliminator on the back of a convincing win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their final match of the league season. KKR’s stunning victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad, which resulted in them displacing CSK from the second place, must have come as somewhat of a jolt to MS Dhoni and co.
Mumbai Indians, meanwhile, must be high on adrenaline after their astonishing win over the Rajasthan Royals in the final league match of the season. Needing to score 190 in 14.3 overs to sneak into fourth place in the standings, MI accomplished the task when few gave them a chance. There were contributions all-round – from the two openers and Corey Anderson, who piloted the run-chase, to Ambati Rayudu whose cameo kept MI in the game and of course Aditya Tare, who sealed the deal with a maximum.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 8 pm IST
Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai The Protagonists
Dwayne Smith has scored plenty of runs at the top this season and so has Lendl Simmons in his few appearances for the Mumbai Indians. Suresh Raina is a vital cog for CSK at No.3, while MI’s Ambati Rayudu has done just as well without drawing the attention that his CSK counterpart attracts. The experienced Michael Hussey has done well since he has returned to the MI XI, while CSK will face the conundrum of whom to field – between Brendon McCullum and Faf du Plessis – as an opening partner to Smith. McCullum had a very good run before heading back home, but then, du Plessis filled in for the Kiwi seamlessly. There’s very little that separates the two teams at the top. Hence, the quantum of runs scored and the number of deliveries consumed by the top three could well determine which way the pendulum swings.
MI could have an edge over their opponents in the middle order, for they have reputed damage-makers like Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson, while CSK field Mithun Manhas, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin in the lower-middle order.
The names of MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma should crop up – not only for their batting but for their captaincy skills too. Apart from the runs they score, how well either player utilises the resources available could have a telling impact on the match. MS Dhoni certainly has the edge on the captaincy front, for he has been there and done it with a great degree of success at all levels.
The one contest on the bowling front that promises to be riveting is between the two off-spinners – MI’s Harbhajan Singh and CSK’s R Ashwin. Both bowlers have had good runs so far this season – albeit with varying styles. It will be interesting to see how they fare when pitted against each other. Notes from previous match
Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore: The CSK bowlers did very well in restricting RCB to a modest 154 and the batsmen followed it up by chasing down the runs without too much difficulty. But the eight-wicket win – with 14 balls to spare - should not mask the fact that CSK’s bowlers were found wanting in the second-half of RCB’s innings. From 56/3 at the halfway stage, RCB scored 96 runs in the following 10 overs to finish at a respectable score. There was little pressure exerted by the CSK bowlers in the second-half; seven of the final 10 overs cost CSK 10 runs or more. Further, while there were 32 dot-balls bowled in the initial 10 overs, there were only 11 dot deliveries bowled in the following 10.
Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals: This was an exceptional and out-of-the-world performance from the Mumbai Indians. To think that it would be possible to chase 190 in under 15 overs by itself is outrageous, but to be able to do it shows the audacity and self-belief in the dressing room. The team should take a lot of confidence from that performance. The players and coaching staff will be aware that the bowlers could have done a lot better. The bowlers erred on length on several occasions; for more than half of the 20 overs, the bowlers were guilty of pitching the ball in the batsmen’s arc or bowling it short. The Rajasthan Royals realized over 70 percent of their runs from these deliveries.
Mumbai Indians are the only team in the IPL to have registered more wins than defeats against the Chennai Super Kings. In 17 contests between the two heavyweights, MI have 9 victories, while CSK have won the remaining 8 contests.
The head-to-head was pretty lop-sided in favour of MI prior to this season. But the balance has become more even after CSK won both their matches against MI this season. In the first meeting in Dubai, CSK restricted their opponents to 141 and chased it down quite comfortably to win by 7 wickets. In the second meeting at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, CSK prevailed yet again, this time chasing down 158 in the final over, with MS Dhoni doing the honours in the final over of the run-chase.
CSK and MI are the two teams to have made it past the League season to the Playoffs/knockouts more often than the other teams. CSK have finished among the top four teams in every season of the IPL, while MI have progressed past the league stage in five of the seven seasons.
In IPL 2010, the Mumbai Indians played all their home matches at Brabourne Stadium. Their home record that season read: Played – 7, Won – 6, Lost – 1.
What happens to these two teams hereafter depends on the outcome of this match. The winner of this match will compete in Qualifier 2, scheduled to be played at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on May 30.
For the losing team, it will be the end of the road. But they will be able to make a statement later this year in the Champions League T20 Qualifiers.
Corey Anderson is the man responsible for Mumbai Indians’ surprise qualification to the Playoffs. His unbeaten 95 off 44 balls propelled MI to 195 in 14.4 overs, thus beating Rajasthan Royals not only in the game but also on net run-rate, and therefore, making it to the final four. Now as they gear up for the big game – the Eliminator, against Chennai Super Kings – at Brabourne Stadium, MI’s man of the moment says he feels much more fearless and confident after his last match’s antics.
“We pulled off what people thought was impossible and it was a pretty good feeling,” Anderson said of his knock. “It’s almost a sense of relief that we’re in the Playoffs and we’ll start with an even playing field. So, yes, we are fearless after the last game and we can continue the momentum; we have a real shot at winning this.”
The Kiwi was all the rage in the 2014 IPL Player Auction, before MI lapped him up for Rs. 4.5 crore. However, he had a quiet IPL. Until he broke loose. When asked why it took him so long to find form, Anderson said that T20 is not quite his strong suit.
“T20 is the one format I have struggled in the most. The more I play it, the more I’ll learn. With the group of men in our camp, who have played a lot of international cricket, it is very easy to learn. I’m glad I have lived up to the faith the team has shown in me by contributing to where we are right now,” the New Zealander said.
Besides the team’s newly found confidence and attitude, what will also benefit MI is that both Qualifier 2 and the Eliminator will be played in Mumbai, the city that is always behind their hometown heroes.
“The crowd has been behind us 100 percent even when we have been at the bottom of the table. To have that confidence that they are going to back us no matter what, is a good feeling.”