Chennai Super Kings have the ability to rise to the occasion during the business end of IPL © IANS
Chennai Super Kings may just have the upper-hand over Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 Eliminator given their good record in knockout games, writes Nishad Pai Vaidya.
Mumbai Indians come into the Eliminator of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 with some happy memories. A few blocks away from the current setting at the Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai scripted one of the most stunning victories to storm into the playoffs. When such events transpire, a side often tends to believe that nothing is impossible. However, when it comes to crunch games, Chennai Super Kings have been the masters in the IPL and they are just too formidable on the day.
Even when Chennai have barely scrapped through to the playoffs or the semi-finals, they have looked the side to beat. There is something about their side’s character in such games. Perhaps, it all stems from their leader MS Dhoni, who is simply unfazed by it all. The calm he brings to the field is unparalleled and that rubs off on a side. Mumbai would remember the 2012 Eliminator when Dhoni came and smashed it around, taking the game away from them. That is something they would want to change.
This season, Chennai have had the better of Mumbai. They beat them in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and then recorded their first victory at the Wankhede Stadium. In terms of track record and overall confidence, Chennai would have the upper hand over Mumbai and apart from the final last year, they have generally done well against them in knockout matches. It is with that confidence that they would move into the crucial clash.
Mumbai have just managed to make it in, but do not look the strongest side. The big factor is that they are without Lasith Malinga and their bowling attack may lack the punch. Harbhajan Singh is one bowler who keeps it tight and takes the odd wicket, but Mumbai need a bigger effort from the bowlers. Else, Chennai would run away with the game.
Coming into this game, Chennai seem to have made that crucial change to their bowling attack. Ashish Nehra is in and that will help strengthen the bowling. They had struggled with the other seam bowling option here, but this should present a good option for Chennai. The batting is as consistent as ever and Dwayne Smith would be the key man in this game as well. In the past, he has played some good knocks against Chennai, but this time, he is out there doing it for them.
If one has to pick a winner for this game, it has to be Chennai simply because of their better track record in crunch matches. They have their core intact from last season and not much has changed for them this year. Mumbai can put up a good fight and if they capitalize on crucial moments, they may have a chance. It is T20 after all and it is about that one crucial phase in the game that can turn it around.
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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)