IPL 2019: Can CSK break the jinx against Mumbai Indians?

Chennai: Sixty matches involving eight teams in 45 days. The action began 23 March and the cash-rich IPL’s league stage has come to an end. Emotions ran high, words were exchanged, fortunes fluctuated, records were shattered and new names emerged.

Finally, four teams have made it to the qualifiers. And three among them are the usual suspects – Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians & Sunrisers Hyderabad. Call it a surprise, Delhi Capitals, led by Shreyas Iyer, comprising young players, is also in the list.

Sadly, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals put up a dismal show in this edition of Indian Premier League.

A quick look at teams that have booked a berth in playoffs

Chennai Super Kings

Having started their campaign with a series of wins, CSK lost a few in between when skipper Dhoni could not play after he developed fever. They lost both their encounters with Mumbai Indians in the league stage. And with CSK playing MI again in Chepauk in their first qualifier, the question on the lips of every fan in Chennai is whether the ‘Men in Yellow’ will take revenge on MI. In 14 matches, CSK won nine matches and lost five.

Spinners have been their key. Imran Tahir and Harbhajan Singh are among the wickets. Ravindra Jadeja is contributing big with both bat and ball. Faf du Plessis and Raina have started to peak at the right time,
while the out-of-form Shane Watson is a cause for concern. What is more worrying is Kedhar Jadhav’s injury which might prompt Dhoni to make a change to the 11 for the qualifier.

Dhoni is an inspirational leader and he is on fire scoring at a higher strike rate. He has come up with match-winning innings on more than a couple of occasions.

Mumbai Indians

Rohit Sharma and his boys began their campaign this year, as usual, on a dismal note. But they picked up steam as the tournament progressed. With Pandya brothers (Hardik &  Krunal) at their all-around best, de Kock scoring at will opening the innings, Pollard firing from all cylinders, Bumrah picking wickets and young Rahul Chahar successfully spinning a web around batsmen, their campaign has been phenomenal so far.

Mumbai, who ended up on top of the table, plays their most favourite enemy – CSK in there play-off encounter. Having beaten CSK in both the matches in the league stage, the momentum must be favouring Mumbai. But on a different day on a tricky Chepauk stadium, anything can happen.

Delhi Capitals

The rejuvenated Delhi Capitals made it to the playoffs for the first time in seven years. New management and a new set of players seem to have done the trick for them. Their batting looks solid with Shikar
Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw opening, Shreyas Iyer at one down followed by mercurial Rishabh Pant and big hitting Colin Ingram in the middle order.

IPL veterans Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra have bowled in the right places and before leaving for South Africa, Kagiso Rabada proved that he is DC’s potent weapon, bagging 25 wickets. A lot is expected from the young side going to the next stage. Coach Ricky Pointing sounded positive. “Though we displayed an average batting display in a couple of matches, we have enough talent and zeal to keep winning,” he said.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

The Kane Williamson-led side, which was last year’s finalist, began their 2019 campaign tremendously. Their openers David Warner and Johnny Bairstow stitched three 100-plus partnerships besides scoring
huge on various occasions. When both left IPL to join their national sides, trouble began for SRH.  They’ve eventually managed only 6 wins ending fourth on the points table. They play Delhi in their
eliminator.

Kane Williamson is slowly coming back to form, Manish Pandey is at his prime and so are Nabi and Rashid Khan. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and young-left arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed are among the wickets.
Playing at one of their home grounds (Visakhapatnam), SRH would expect more locals to come and cheer for the first eliminator. SRH has played some really good cricket in patches and in other games they haven’t been on a par. All eyes will be on SRH when they play DC next.

Qualifier – CSK vs MI at Chepauk (7 May), 8 pm

Eliminator 1 – DC vs SRH at Visakhapatnam ( 8 May), 8 pm

M BHARAT KUMAR