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Default Mumbai face dangerous Chennai in knockout clash - 05-23-2012, 10:03 AM

Whatever their form going into the playoffs, no side plays the crunch games better than Chennai Super Kings AFP

Such is the knockout format of the IPL that a side that won eight and lost seven games during the league stage now has a chance to win the tournament. When as many as four out of nine teams - eight during the first three seasons - make the playoffs, such things are bound to happen. Chennai Super Kings, the defending champions, happen to be that side this season.
It is not Super Kings' problem that the format is such. While they have had to depend on three other teams messing up their qualification chances this season, the fact is that those three sides did mess up. And Super Kings would still not have qualified had they not won a few games from seemingly hopeless positions. Against Rajasthan Royals, they needed 43 from 22 deliveries. Against Royal Challengers Bangalore, they needed 43 from 12.
Mumbai Indians, the Champions League Twenty20 2011 winners, may have won ten games, but as always, haven't quite dominated as much as a side with so much quality should have. They have had their share of come-from-behind wins as well, including chasing 172 after being 51 for 5 against Royal Challengers.
Mumbai Indians have scored their runs at 7.43 an over; Super Kings at 7.60. Mumbai Indians have gone for 7.54 an over; Super Kings for 7.58. There is not much to choose between the two on these parameters. On a Bangalore pitch, which has been the best this season for batting, with a scoring-rate rate of 8.31 an over, Mumbai Indians' powerful line-up gives them a slight edge, as does their tendency to contain by taking wickets rather than choking the opposition batsmen.
These sides played the 2010 IPL final, which Super Kings won by 22 runs after Mumbai Indians adopted some strange tactics, sending Abhishek Nayar and Harbhajan Singh ahead of Ambati Rayudu, JP Duminy and Kieron Pollard. Whatever their form going into the playoffs, no side plays the crunch games better than Super Kings.

Form guide

Chennai Super Kings: LWWWL (most recent first)
Mumbai Indians: WLWWL

Players to watch
Suresh Raina, the highest run-getter in the IPL, has made 341 runs this season, but they have come at a strike-rate of 126.76, as against a Twenty20 career strike-rate close to 140. The sight of him heaving sixes over midwicket in the yellow Super Kings uniform has been a fixture throughout the five seasons of the IPL. Will he help them avoid elimination tomorrow?
Kieron Pollard has had a productive season, making 204 runs at 145.71 and picking up 15 wickets at 7.93. Add to that his sharp fielding and safe catching. He had come in at No. 8 in that 2010 final with the game almost lost by then. What will he do in the 2012 eliminator?
During his Man-of-the-Match performance against Delhi Daredevils in Chennai, Ben Hilfenhaus uprooted Virender Sehwag's off stump with a late outswinger in the first over, and three balls later, dismissed David Warner. Michael Hussey has said that the new ball will be crucial in Bangalore. That adds more importance to Hilfenhaus' role.

Team combination
Dwayne Smith's explosiveness with the bat - demonstrated earlier this season when he had three balls from Ben Hilfenhaus to score the 14 needed for victory, and did - should get him into the XI. Lasith Malinga and Pollard are guaranteed starters. Who will get the fourth overseas player's spot - James Franklin or Herschelle Gibbs? With so many hitters in the line-up, it makes sense to go for the all-round skills of Franklin. Their latest opening combination, Sachin Tendulkar and Smith, worked for Mumbai Indians against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday. Will Smith partner Tendulkar again on Wednesday?
With MS Dhoni playing both the overseas allrounders, Dwayne Bravo and Albie Morkel, whenever they've been available, two spots remain. Hilfenhaus, who has been outstanding apart from those three deliveries to Smith, should take one place. Will Super Kings choose their highest run-getter of the season, Faf du Plessis, over the seasoned Michael Hussey? Ideally not.

Meetings this season
In the opening game of this season, Super Kings collapsed to 112 in Chennai, and Richard Levi shut them out with a fifty on IPL debut. It was Mumbai Indians' turn to collapse, from 134 for 1 to 159 for 8, at the Wankhede Stadium, before Smith's last-over assault got them home.

Stats and trivia
  • Super Kings have the best win-loss ratio in the IPL - 1.45. Mumbai Indians are next with 1.34.
  • Mumbai Indians have taken the most wickets in the IPL - 480.
  • Michael Hussey has the highest batting average for Super Kings - 39.76.
    "We've stumbled through a number of times to get into the semi-finals. I remember when Dhoni hit two sixes against [Kings XI] Punjab a couple of years ago, that was the difference in finishing fourth and in finishing sixth or seventh. You can look at it as a lucky way, because other teams were defeated in the last few games. But we were able to get enough points in all of our matches leading up to the finals."
    Chennai Super Kings' batsman Michael Hussey

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