Dubai: Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the two most successful Indian Premier League franchises (in terms of titles won), will clash in the first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021’s second leg here on Sunday.
While CSK are second on the points table with five wins from seven matches – 10 points – MI are fourth with four wins — eight points — from seven games.
MI have often started slowly, but they have ramped up their performance towards the end of the tournament.
In the ongoing season, they seemed to have got into dominating phase in the sixth and seventh matches but then Covid-19 brought the tournament to a halt.
It will be interesting to see how they start afresh.
MI’s two key Indian players — Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah — have just returned from the Test series against England and how quickly they acclimatise to conditions is going to have a bearing on the performance of their team.
For CSK, Shardul Thakur will turn up with renewed confidence having churned out a match-winning performance in the fourth Test that India won at The Oval.
CSK could have the edge as they will be rested and better prepared.
Opening batsman Faf du Plessis will again be vital at the top along with Ruturaj Gaikwad. The South African batsman is the third highest run-getter in the league with 320 runs from seven matches at an average of 64.
In the duel in the first leg, Mumbai Indians came out winners by four wickets. Although CSK scored 218/4 in 20 overs in Delhi with half-centuries from Moeen Ali, du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu, MI rode unbeaten 87 off 34 balls to win on the last ball of the match.
Knowing the power-hitting strength and batting depth of the two teams, a high-scoring match could be likely.
The match and the remaining matches will also be a chance for Rohit to strengthen his credentials as a capable captain.
A lot of focus will be on him as he will be against a team led by arguably India’s best short-format skipper, MS Dhoni.