Chennai: IPL heavyweight Chennai Super Kings open their campaign at their bastion in Chennai against Mumbai Indians in game two of Saturday's double-header, and with a replenished pace bowling attack the home team could look to rattle the shaky MI batting order.
Mumbai lost their season opener by two runs to Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday night, with their batsmen, bar Dinesh Karthik, struggling to dominate the RCB bowling. Their latest opening pair boast a whopping 61,657 international runs between them but in their first alliance together neither Sachin Tendulkar nor Ricky Ponting convinced against Bangalore. Their running between the wickets was shaky and neither batsman was able to force the pace.
Rohit Sharma again came a cropper with a crude swing across the line while Ambati Rayudu ate up 18 deliveries for 18 runs during a tense chase. And why Harbhajan Singh was sent ahead of Jacon Oram also made little sense in the final over. That won't suffice against CSK, who have a habit of pouncing on weakness and winning the key moments.
Having hopped across the regional state border into Tamil Nadu, will again be without the services of their bowling spearhead Lasith Malinga. The slinger from Sri Lanka missed the first Bangalore game due to a niggle and even if he's fit, Malinga won't be able to play in Chennai owing to the directive from the IPL governing council following Tamil Nadu chief mister Jayalalithaa's refusal to let Sri Lankans play in the state.
That means that Mumbai are likely to retain three of the four overseas players that they did on their first match - Ricky Ponting, Kieron Pollard, Mitchell Johnson. The one to miss out looks to be Oram, who conceded 22 in four overs. While those aren't bad figures, in all likelihood the man to come in for his IPL debut will be Australian Glenn Maxwell on whom Mumbai spent $1million at the February auction. There may also be another exchange in the XI, with Munaf Patel possibly making way for another Indian pace bowler after being taken for 40 in his quota against RCB.
Mumbai's stiffest challenge is to overcome Chennai's batting might. From the top, Chennai start with Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina and then lead into MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, S Badrinath and Albie Morkel. Each of these batsmen has played a winning role at some point in CSK's IPL history and how they fare against Mumbai's bowling could well be the deciding factor on Saturday.
At the IPL 6 auction, CSK picked up five bowlers with the sole intention of bolstering their bowling. Of the five, the pair who could come into the picture against Mumbai are Dirk Nannes and rookie West Indian quick Jason Holder, but how CSK tinker with their bowling will be crucial considering Hussey and Bravo are first-choice selections. The South African allrounders Albie Morkel and Chris Morris are doubtful for the first two games due to South African domestic commitments, and with the Sri Lankan pair of seamer Nuwan Kulasekara and offspinner Akila Dananjaya not open for selection CSK will have to turn to their domestic talent. This could mean an IPL debut for Under-19 star Baba Aparajith in the middle order; if not, CSK could unleash two of their overseas fast bowlers on Mumbai.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Michael Hussey, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 10 Shadab Jakati, 10 Dirk Nannes, 11 Ben Laughlin/Jason Holder
Mumbai Indians: 1 Sachin Tendulkar, 2 Ricky Ponting (capt), 3 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 4 Rohit Sharma, 5 Ambati Rayudu, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Glenn Maxwell, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Munaf Patel/Dhawal Kulkarni/Abu Nechim