IPL 2021: Chennai take on Mumbai in 'El Clasico' of cricket

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on April 30, 2021
Chennai Super Kings players celebrate their win against the Kolkata Knight Riders. (BCCI)

This season Chennai Super Kings have regained their mojo, winning five out of six matches

This is the ‘El Clasico’ of the IPL. The Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians are the most high-profile teams in the league, led by two iconic players with fantastic talent at their disposal.

Mumbai and Chennai, the two most popular T20 franchises in the world, share eight IPL titles between them.

The two teams were tied at three titles each until the 2018 season. MI have since zoomed ahead, winning in 2019 – when CSK were losing finalists – and 2020 in UAE, when the team from the south slumped to their worst-ever performance since the start of the IPL.

This season, the Chennai Super Kings have regained their mojo, winning five out of six matches to be currently top of the points table. They are probably the best team in the league now.

Mumbai, on the other hand, have been struggling to stay afloat in the top four, losing half of the six matches played, hardly looking like the team that dominated last year.

It would be folly, however, to believe this mitigates MI’s prospects in this match. In the past, the team have recovered from sluggish starts to gather steam rapidly and go onto win the title. Talent in the team is abundant, and usually it is just a matter of how soon the players start jelling with each other.

Mumbai’s last match against Rajasthan Royals suggested they were getting their act together. In previous matches, the batting had not lived up to reputation, struggling to put even 150 on the board.

On Thursday, Mumbai chased down 171 with consummate ease, despite mainstay and captain Rohit Sharma falling cheaply.

Quinton de Kock showed excellent form, and MI’s tactic of promoting Krunal Pandya in the order to counter the leg-spin of Rahul Tewatia, as well as RR’s three left-arm pacers, paid off splendidly.

Since Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya didn’t have to do much with the bat, their earlier poor form could be a problem against the CSK. But the fact that MI played one batsman less by dropping Ishan Kishan shows they’ve opted for a more aggressive approach.

Barring one defeat, CSK have had a smooth run so far and will fancy their chances. Openers Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad have set up the foundation for big scores or chases, and down the order, batsmen have got runs, some of them spectacularly, as Ravindra Jadeja did against the RCB.

CSK’s bowling has depth, variety and experience even if it doesn’t boast current international stars like Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult.

While Deepak Chahar has been outstanding in his first spells, Jadeja has had the batsmen on a leash in the middle overs. Though Thakur has leaked runs, Dwayne Bravo/Lungi Ngidi have been good in the death overs.

Led superbly by MS Dhoni, CSK look a far different team from the one which was easy prey for most teams last season. There’s greater energy and enthusiasm, and a strong desire to win is evident. A win in this match would put them on the cusp of a place in the playoffs.

Players To Watch Out For:

CSK: Faf du Plessis, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar

MI: Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Rohit Sharma

Saturday’s match

Mumbai vs Chennai

6pm UAE Time

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