Large Image – MI has the wood on CSK at Chepauk
The last time Chennai Super Kings lost two home games in the league phase of an IPL season was way back in 2013. After they suffered a last ball defeat to Punjab Kings last weekend, CSK’s head coach Stephen Fleming suggested that the Impact Player rule enabled teams to go tougher on oppositions during this IPL – both Adam Zampa and Prabhsimran Singh, who had been brought in as Impact Players for the two games, messed with CSK’s plans and saw them face rare home defeats.
However, even before the introduction of the Impact Player, Mumbai Indians had breached CSK’s fort several times. In fact, MI has a dominant 6-2 win-loss record against CSK in Chepauk, and has a six game winning streak against CSK at the venue.
MI’s recent form is also encouraging: they’ve won five of their last seven games, with their mid-order in particular dripping with explosive power and class. Suryakumar Yadav, Tim David and Tilak Varma all contributed heavily to MI becoming the first IPL team to reach over 200 totals in back-to-back games. MI also has depth in their spin attack, which will come in handy when Chepauk rolls out a black earth spinner.
As for CSK, they seem to have run out of gas after being the pacesetters in the first half of the season. Ravindra Jadeja, Ambati Rayudu and Moeen Ali have yet to hit the bat well, while Tushar Deshpande has leaked runs to death, though he has a knack for taking wickets in clusters. Deepak Chahar, who was retired injured when CSK and MI last met in the Wankhede, is fit again and can add some experience and power play to their attack.
A win for CSK on Saturday could potentially move them back into the top two, while a win for MI could see them break out of the mid-table and into the top half of the standings.
Team News – Hrithik Shokeen could return for MI
MI is usually big on matchups, so they can bring back offspinner Hrithik Shokeen against a southpaw CSK lineup. There is no official news from the CSK camp as to whether Ben Stokes is available for selection – he’s been netting and bowling for the past week. Sisanda Magala has also resumed batting and bowling in the nets, but with Matheesha Pathirana establishing himself as CSK’s go-to death bowler, there is no room for him.
Chennai super kings: NRLLWW (last five matches, most recent first)
Mumbai Indians: WWLLW
As for the Impact Player, CSK has followed a fairly consistent pattern, with Rayudu replacing one of the bowlers as they chase. They could start with Deshpande when bowling first and replace him with Rayudu in the second innings, or vice versa.
CSK Probably XII: 1 Devon Conway, 2 Ruturaj Gaikwad, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Shivam Dube, 5 Ambati Rayudu6 Moeen Ali, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Maheesh Theekshana, 11 Matheesha Pathirana, 12 Tushar Deshpande
If the Chepauk field stays true to its nature, MI might consider using left-arm-all-type spinner Kumar Kartikeya as an Impact Player and amp up their spin attack even further. Suryakumar may give way to Kartikeya if MI goes this route.
MI Probably XII: 1 Rohit Sharma (captain), 2 Ishan Kishan (wk), 3 Cameron Green, 4 Suryakumar Yadav5 Tilak Varma, 6 Tim David, 7 Nehal Wadhera, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Jofra Archer, 10 Hrithik Shokeen, 11 Akash Madhwal/Arshad Khan, 12 Kumar Kartikeya
David has a strike rate of 199 between overs 16 and 20 this season – the highest among batters who have seen at least 60 balls in this phase. Jadeja, by comparison, only hit 146 at this stage.
While the Chepauk fields in this IPL have provided some buying power for spinners, the real bounce has allowed batters to hit through the line. Overhead conditions were cloudy as MI and CSK began training on the eve of the game and some rain is also forecast for Saturday night.
“We’ve played [Lasith] Malinga in the nets when I came here in Mumbai Indians and that gives us a lot of confidence. He was a legend and we practiced well when he was bowling so we will just watch the ball and play our own game.”
Ishan Kishan feels the familiarity of playing Malinga with the MI nets will help them choose Pathirana