File photo of CSK captain MS Dhoni batting with team-mate Suresh Raina. (AFP Photo)
Mumbai Indians haven't got on the points table yet in IPL 7, having been blanked in both their matches so far; and their task isn't going to get any easier as they will next face a peaking Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team on Friday.
Two confidence-shattering defeats against Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore have set the defending champions back, and they would not want to leave it too late to bring their campaign back on track.
Mumbai's batting is more to blame for their disastrous start as they have managed totals of just 122 and 115 in their two attempts so far.
Michael Hussey, captain Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson have to failed to do justice to their reputations, while Ambati Rayudu has been impressive, though not able to kick on to score anything big.
Mumbai's bowling, though, seems in good hands with Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga looking sharp. However, much is left to be desired from experienced campaigners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha. Harbhajan has blown hot and cold while Ojha has failed to keep a lid on scoring.
Chennai, on the other hand, have overcome their opening loss with two back-to-back wins. After an upset defeat against Kings XI Punjab, where they failed to defend 205, CSK first brushed aside Delhi Daredevils with a record margin of 93 runs and then edged Rajasthan Royals by 7 runs in a close finish.
Batting remains Chennai's strong point with Dwayne Smith firing at the top alongside Brendon McCullum, who though has failed in the last two games that CSK won.
Suresh Raina is now almost a talisman of CSK franchise as one of the most prolific run-getter for them, and he will remain pivotal to their chances against Mumbai as well, assisted by Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja, who had a dream game against Rajasthan with both bat and ball to bag the Man-of-the-Match award.
Jadeja first scored 36* to get Chennai out of jail and reach 140, and then he bowled a spell of 4 for 33 to mesmerize Rajasthan batsman, who fell short of the target by 7 runs. But others in CSK bowling line-up, namely R Ashwin, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ishwar Pandey and Mohit Sharma, have contributed appreciably by not only keeping things quiet but also picking up important wickets.
Undoubtedly the way these two teams have shaped up so far, Chennai will be overwhelming favourites to further dent Mumbai's title defence on at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
(With PTI inputs)