IPL Eliminator preview: Chennai v Mumbai

India

Let's start by expressing astonishment at the fact that Mumbai are even in this position. After losing their first five matches, all in Bangladesh, they made a nail-biting turn around when back on home soil.

<b>Overview</b><br>First things first, this is an Eliminator game. The winner of this fixture will play in the second qualifier against the loser of Tuesday's game (KXIP or Kolkata). The winner of that game will go to the final. So, the winner here will have to play again to reach the final and the loser will be out. Capisce?

Let's start by expressing astonishment at the fact that Mumbai are even in this position. After losing their first five matches, all in Bangladesh, they made a nail-biting turn around when back on home soil, with nearly every game they played a 'must-win'.

Then after scraping back seven wins in India, including four in a row at the end of the group stage, they needed a miracle against Rajasthan. They needed to score 190 runs off 87 balls, at a rate over 13, and they did it!

But they go into the play-offs without a key player in Lasith Malinga, who has joined up with Sri Lanka in England and his death bowling will be sorely missed. They'll have to rely on Harbhajan Singh for the wickets now…

Chennai, on the other hand, would have preferred to be in the first Qualifier, given their good start to the tournament. But after they left Bangladesh, where they recorded four wins out of five, they then had a losing streak of three games late in the day.

This stretch of defeats came at the worst time, when Mumbai and Kolkata were surging, and they thus dropped out of the top two into third place, making sure they had to play twice just to reach the final.

Mumbai are the defending champions, and Chennai have two IPL titles, so this game in Mumbai will be a tricky one for both sides. They will have the weather on their side though, as no rain and lots of heat is forecast.

<b>Key Players</b><br>Much like Mumbai, star signing Corey Anderson had a poor start to the tournament but was retained, and he came good when it mattered, hitting 95 unbeaten runs in that game against the Royals. off just 44 balls.

Added to this, the Indians have no batsmen in the top 10 run scorers, but they do have the only centurion in the tournament in Lendl Simmons, who has played only seven games but scored a ton and two fifties.

Chennai have three players in the top 10 runs getters, with Dwayne Smith in second place and in good nick with five half centuries. Suresh Raina and Brendon McCullum are the others, with three half tons each.

The bowling attack has been spearheaded by Mohit Sharma, who is second on the wicket-taking list, while Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have also been impressive, though skipper MS Dhoni's tactics have sometimes been a hindrance.

<b>Previous Meeting</b><br>The sides clashed on 10 May at the Wankhede, and Chennai emerged the victors by four wickets. Mumbai batted first and made a middling 157 for seven thanks to Ambhati Rayudu's half ton. CSK chased that down with three balls to spare, with Dwayne Smith's 57 at the top of the knock the key.

<b>Likely Playing XIs</b><br><i>Chennai Super Kings:</i> Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis, Ravi Aswhin, MS Dhoni, Ravi Jadeja, Mohit Sharma, Ashish Nehra, Samuel Badree

<i>Mumbai Indians:</i> Lendl Simmons, Mike Hussey, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Ambhati Rayudu, Corey Anderson, Aditya Tare, Harbhajan Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Pragyan Ojha, Jasprit Bumrah

<b>Cricket365's Prediction</b><br>Do Mumbai have another crunch game in them? They needed to win game after game to reach this stage, and must pull it off two, if not three more times to defend their title.

We reckon this is going to be a very tight game, but without Malinga, Chennai may just pip the hosts to the post. Thanks to aDhoni death overs cameo, obviously.

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