Mumbai: Their campaign back on track after tasting five successive losses in the UAE, defending champions Mumbai Indians will now face two-time title winners Chennai Super Kings in a potentially explosive no-holds-barred contest at the Wankhede Stadium.
The two arch-rivals are poised to go toe-to-toe in front of a packed crowd in the night game that is more crucial for the hosts and Champions League holders than their southern rivals who are sitting pretty at no. 2 on the points table with six wins from eight games.
Mumbai’s comprehensive back-to-back victories over table toppers Kings XI Punjab on May 3, followed by another well-merited one against Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 6 in their well-fortified home venue has brought them right back into the race for the four play-off berths.
However, a first defeat in 11 games at this venue since tasting defeat in 2012 would virtually derail Mumbai’s quest for clinching back-to-back IPL crowns and emulating Super Kings’ feat in 2010 and ’11.
Mumbai would be eager to carry their winning momentum against the formidable Super Kings whose morale, especially its bowlers, could be down after the 44-run thrashing they got from Kings XI on May 7.
Chennai bowlers, ripped apart by Kings XI’s Glenn Maxwell and company, would find in-form captain Rohit Sharma and burly West Indian powerhouse Kieron Pollard major stumbling blocks.
Sharma, who made a superb 59 not out, and Pollard (43) put on a near century partnership for the fifth wicket against Bangalore in Mumbai’s previous game which helped the home team post their highest total of 187 this season.
Both these batsmen revel at Wankhede where the ball comes on to the bat nicely and are expected to be the main hurdles for Chennai’s varied bowling attack.
Other Mumbai batsmen like Ambati Rayudu and Corey Anderson have made starts without launching into the bigleague, while new look opener Chidambaram Gautam has surprised the public with his big hits.