IT’S play-off time in the IPL. Josh Healey (@joshhealey04) gives us his view on the opening match.
Chennai v Mumbai | Tuesday 15:30 | Sky Sports 2
The winner of this tie will go straight through to the final, but it will not be disastrous for the side that comes out second best as they will get another opportunity to reach the final when they play the winner of the Bangalore-Rajasthan clash in the second qualifier.
Mumbai, who have won seven of their last eight, have home advantage with this match being played at the Wankhede Stadium. Meanwhile Chennai, although top of the pile, have often been underwhelming this season. Most notably they have been particularly average away from home, having W3 L4.
Chennai will be without Brendon McCullum, their leading runscorer this season by some distance, and it’s a big ask for veteran Mike Hussey to come in and take over the reins.
The Super Kings enjoy playing on spin-friendly pitches which allow Ravi Ashwin, Pawan Negi and Ravi Jadeja to squeeze their opponents, but they will not find that at the Wankhede, where a quality batting track should be served up.
Mumbai’s winning formula has been found and that is largely thanks to the seam duo of Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan, who are both in sensational form. That’s not to mention the opening pair of Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel, who have both been racking up the runs recently.
The form which Mumbai are in is reminiscent of Kolkata last year; the Knight Riders won seven straight league games before getting the better of Punjab twice in a row to claim the 2014 title, and it’s not beyond Mumbai to replicate a similar feat this year.
Taking everything into account, Mumbai are the value bet here. Many of the times I’ve watched Chennai this season I’ve been disappointed by their performance.
Apart from McCullum, who is now absent, their batting hasn’t fired as it usually does, and too often they’ve relied on their bowlers to get them out of sticky situations. At the Chidambaram they have got away with it, but away from home they have been found wanting. In what is effectively an away game at the leagues in form side, I can see them struggling.
Chennai v Mumbai – Mumbai to win (6/5 William Hill)
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