During last year’s final against Mumbai Indians, MS Dhoni was the lone fighter for Chennai Super Kings © IANS
Mumbai Indians have had a successful run against Chennai Super Kings and are unbeaten against them at the Wankhede Stadium. Nishad Pai Vaidya discusses a few crucial factors ahead of their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 contest at the same venue.
There is a different touch to Mumbai Indians-Chennai Super Kings contests at the Indian Premier League (IPL). Over the years, they have been the most consistent performers in the league and have often had memorable encounters with some splendid cricket on offer. While Mumbai are the defending champions, Chennai have the most enviable trophy cabinet in the IPL. As the two teams prepare for their clash at the Wankhede Stadium in the IPL 2014, Mumbai are the leaders having won 10 out of their 17 games against Chennai. And, they maintain a clean sheet at the Wankhede Stadium, which remains their fortress.
In the IPL, it gets difficult to bring history into perspective particularly when you consider the fact that the squads undergo an overhaul as the years progress. Both Mumbai and Chennai have undergone numerous changes to their sides and this time, their contest may be a bit different. During the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leg of the league, Chennai won their game quite comprehensively when Mumbai were struggling to get going. However, with the flight back to Mumbai, the home side has regained its winning touch and are looking in much better shape. Chennai won’t find it all too easy.
One interesting thing is that Dwayne Smith is now in Chennai and will face his former team. It is fascinating to note that two years ago, Smith had played a huge role in Mumbai’s remarkable win against Chennai at the same ground. Needing 14 to win off the last three balls, he smashed his current teammate Ben Hilfenhaus, for a four, six and a four. In the game earlier this season, he had started off well and looked quite threatening. He should be a big factor in this game as he would be familiar with the conditions at Wankhede and may also have a point to prove.
If one looks at the previous encounters, Chennai have put in team performances against Mumbai whenever they have beaten them. For this to happen, MS Dhoni’s role could be crucial. Even during last year’s final, he was the lone fighter and had played a good knock earlier in the season, almost taking Chennai to victory. In 2012, during the Eliminator, he knocked Mumbai out with a splendid batting display, taking on the might of Lasith Malinga. Chennai have to tackle Malinga’s menace well and Dhoni is one of the few players who can play the Sri Lankan well.
On Mumbai’s side of things, they will bank on Kieron Pollard, who did well against Chennai last season. Of course, his countryman Dwayne Bravo won’t be there to make it an interesting bout, but one can be assured that Pollard would be fired up for the challenge. His innings in the final last year will be fresh in his memory, although he would like to forget his succession of dropped chances against Chennai during their contest last year at Wankhede. But, it is clear that Pollard has worked himself into form and that should Mumbai well.
But, if there is one bowler who Mumbai have to play, it is Pragyan Ojha. The left-arm spinner has a good record against Chennai since he came into the Mumbai setup in 2012. He could be a crucial factor against a Chennai middle-order that has a familiar look with Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja in there. The surface at Mumbai may also help his kind and give him a bit of bounce.
On paper, Chennai are still the stronger team and have a better track record in IPL 2014. But, they have a bigger battle as beating Mumbai Indians at Wankhede isn’t something they have done. Their only victory at this venue was against Royal Challengers Bangalore during the IPL 2011. It is time, Dhoni and his men change that, but Rohit Sharma’s army is just clawing back into the tournament.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)