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Is there a team that has played in more heart-stopping matches than the Chennai Super Kings? Not in this edition of the IPL for sure! CSK managed to pull off another last over heist against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last match and will now face up to the Mumbai Indians. Of course, Mumbai Indians will come in a close second when it comes to playing nail-biters in this season. Unfortunately for the Mumbai Indians, they always seem to come out second best in such encounters. Can Mumbai finally recover from the prolonged slump that is haunting them and manage to one-up Chennai? Or will CSK continue its winning habit?
It is unfortunate that the most passionate fans in this league will not get to watch their team play at home but this is how things pan out in Indian cricket. CSK has shifted to Pune for this season and will play all its home matches there.
On the evidence of the first match that they played there, though, the Chennai Super Kings has acclimatized quite well. The pitch at Pune turned out to be an absolute belter and CSK’s strong batting lineup made merry.
It is this strong batting lineup that will be in sharp focus for this match. CSK returned to Rayadu and Watson for the opening slot and it looks like Faf du Plessis will be cooling his heels in the dugout for quite some time.
Both the openers have been in brilliant form and the short boundaries at the Pune stadium will beckon them once again.
Raina at number 3 has looked far from his best and has struggled to come to terms with the short-pitched bowling he is now inevitably bombarded with. Dhoni will continue to persist with him, though, and hope that his form improves soon.
It is the middle order that has made all the difference for CSK in close matches. MS Dhoni is in vintage form and bringing back memories of his best. Sam Billings is an excellent player of spin and provides real value in the middle as well. That leaves Dwayne Bravo to come in and do what he knows best at the end of the inning.
If there is something amiss in this middle order then it is the presence of Ravindra Jadeja. The all-rounder is struggling to justify his place in the team and it looks highly unlikely that his batting is going to be the thing that turns his season around.
The bowling lineup of Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, and Karan Sharma is very good on some days and really expensive on others. It is no coincidence that CSK has had to chase huge totals often in this tournament. MS Dhoni knows that winning such matches is not an easy task and he would love for his bowlers to improve their economy rates in the upcoming games.
A misfiring Mumbai Indians lineup could well give his bowling lineup the opportunity to do that.
SR Watson, Ambati Rayudu, SK Raina, Sam Billings, MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, SN Thakur, Imran Tahir.
The Mumbai Indians started the tournament as pre-tournament favorites. They had explosive batsmen in their lineup, all-rounders that could hold their own in both disciplines, and death bowlers that are regarded as the best at what they do in the world.
After six matches, the Mumbai Indians have lost fiver and is sitting second from the bottom of the table.
So, what went wrong?
We think the Mumbai Indians have actually not played as bad a level of cricket as their numbers suggest. Four out of their five losses have come in very closely contested games that could have easily gone in their favor as well. The problem for Mumbai Indians has been that they have played well without winning and they are bound to go through a loss of form in a long tournament like the IPL as well.
Their last loss to the Sunrisers Hyderabad had to be the low-point of their season as they failed to chase down 114.
Surely, it is time to make a few changes in the team.
The one change that we absolutely believe will be made is to bring in JP Duminy in place of the struggling Kieron Pollard. Duminy has been in excellent form in the PSL and can beef up the Mumbai Indians batting while providing another spin option as well if needed.
Ben Cutting got a few games but was shunted out of the team and he too could get a look-in. Maybe Mustafizur Rahman or Mitchell McClenaghan can make way for Cutting who will boost the lower order hitting ability and is an excellent bowler as well.
Mumbai’s bowling has been off the mark under pressure. Bumrah has been bowling one or two bad overs in each while Mustafizur Rahman has cracked under the pressure multiple times. Markande and the Pandya brothers have been the best bowlers for Mumbai by far.
The batsmen for Mumbai has been scoring runs and should enjoy the conditions in Pune. Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, and Ishan Kishan have all played impressive innings. These three are good players but one of them must make way for Rohit Sharma because he is too important a player to be wasted down the order.
Rohit Sharma has played one inning of note and won the Mumbai Indians that match. He can also give himself a few more deliveries by coming up the order. Mumbai Indians are running out of time to turn their season around and they need the best of Rohit Sharma to come to the fore.
Mumbai Indians are up against a red-hot team at the moment but it is a side filled with match winners as well. To count them out is going to be foolhardy.
SA Yadav, Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma, Jean-Paul Duminy, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, MJ Mcclenaghan, Mayank Markande, JJ Bumrah.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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Pune is known for producing pitches that takes spin and help the slower bowlers. In the last match played there, though, CSK scored over 200 runs with ease and showed that there were plenty of ruins to be had on the surface.
We are expecting a similar surface for this match although it could be a little bit slower than last time. Teams should still be able to score plenty of runs and a score of 160-170 should be considered par. A hot day with temperatures in the late thirties centigrade is expected for match day. There is no chance of rain currently predicted.
CSK won the first match against Mumbai Indians from a seemingly hopeless position. Their last five matches against the Mumbai Indians, though, have ended in three losses and two wins. The Mumbai Indians go into this game knowing that they cannot afford too many more losses if they want to stand a chance of making it into the playoffs.
The odds being offered on the Mumbai Indians make them a very tempting bet and we recommend that punters back the upset in this game.
Back Mumbai Indians to win.