It was a remarkable turnaround by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the 2021 edition after miserable outings in the 2020 season. Currently placed second, they could have grabbed the top spot but Keiron Pollard robbed them of a win before the tournament was postponed. One of the key changes CSK had in the 2021 edition was the change in their approach and intent. They were guilty of being too conservative in the 2020 edition and bore the consequences for the same.
CSK as a team looks immaculately balanced. They bat deep and have a plethora of match-winners in the team. The opening looks sorted out with Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad showing enough promise in the first leg. Faf though is doubtful for the first game due to a leg injury he sustained in the CPL. With plenty of spin bowling all-round options like Moeen Ali, Ravindra Jadeja, and Suresh Raina at their disposal, CSK look a daunting opposition. Given the conditions, the trio will be hard to getaway in the middle overs.
In the pace bowling department, Shardul Thakur, Josh Hazlewood, Dwayne Bravo, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar give them plenty of good options to choose from. CSK struggled when they last played in the UAE but they’ll be a lot more confident this time around. Given the team they have, they’ll be hard to beat, even for the two times defending champions Mumbai Indians.
Mumbai Indians generally follow a particular template. They are comfortable in taking some time at the start and laying the platform for the likes of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard to go bonkers in the final overs. The strategy has paid dividends and there shouldn’t be any change in their approach in the second leg as well.
The likes of Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan makes them a formidable batting unit. The good thing about MI unit is that any given day their batters fail to deliver, they have the bowling lineup to defend a low score. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Nathan Coulter-Nile are masters of exploiting the sluggish conditions with their variations. The IPL couldn’t have resumed with a better game.
Pitch Report - The surface in Dubai will be sluggish. The lack of pace will allow spinners and bowlers who like to use a lot of cutters to dominate the proceedings. The pitch will get slower as the match progresses thus chasing won’t be the easiest task.
Mumbai Indians Probable XI
Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Marco Jansen/Jayant Yadav
Chennai Super Kings Probable XI
Faf du Plessis/Robin Uthappa, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Suresh Raina, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c and wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood/Imran Tahir
The pacer had a wonderful outing against England which would have induced a lot of confidence in him. Bumrah is one of the best bowlers going around and can be devastating with the new as well as the old ball. His variations can trick the best batters in the world. Naturally, he’ll be key to MI’s fortune in the IPL.
Raina didn’t have a great outing in the first leg but given the experience and skills he poses, he will hold the key for CSK. He’s good against the spinners, the biggest threat on these pitches. Once set, he can be very hard to dislodge.