Dubai: Their campaign off to a disastrous start, defending champions Mumbai Indians would be gunning for their first win in the seventh edition of IPL but it won`t be easy as they take on formidable Chennai Super Kings, who are on a roll, here on Friday.
Mumbai could not have asked for a nightmarish start to the tournament as the Rohit Sharma-led side suffered big defeats to Kolkata Knight Riders (by 41 runs) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (by 7 wickets) in their first two games.
The Mumbai outfit, have plenty of work to do both in their batting as well as bowling departments.
It is their batting which has hurt the title holders badly as they could only muster 122 and 115 in their previous two games.
Ambati Rayudu got starts in both the matches but failed to convert them into big scores, while senior players like Mike Hussey, skipper Rohit, Kieron Pollard and all-rounder Correy Anderson have been far from impressive and they will be have to shoulder more responsibility if the team hopes to defend its title.
On the bowling front, veteran Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga were upto the mark, but the spin department comprising Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha has let the team down.
While Harbhajan has been economical, Ojha leaked runs in both the matches but it is their inability to pick up wickets which has affected the team badly and would be a cause of concern for coach John Wright and mentor Sachin Tendulkar.
Chennai, on the other hand, started their IPl-7 campaign with a six-wicket loss at the hands of Kings XI Punjab.
But they stormed back into familiar territory with back-to-back wins over Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals.
In fact, Chennai recorded their biggest-ever win in terms of runs against the Delhi Daredevils (by 93 runs) before comfortably beating Rajasthan by seven wickets.
And going by form, Chennai will start as overwhelming favourites against a struggling Mumbai side, which is seeking to get back to winning ways.
Two-time winners CSK will be banking on their strong batting to give them a flying start. After his 28-ball 50 against Rajasthan last night, Dwayne Smith will be eyeing yet another electrifying knock.
But it is Suresh Raina, who struck his 20th fifty in IPL recently, will again be the man to watch out for. The left-handed batsman has been one of the most prolific scorer in the IPL.
After having failed in the last two outings, Brendon McCullum will be hoping to give the team a brisk start at the top along with Smith.
Faf du Plessis is always a dangerous customer while Ravindra Jadeja is a dependable bat as well. And then there is skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni who will be eager to have a good hit in the middle.
As far as Chennai bowling is concerned, left-arm spinner Jadeja shone with the ball against Rajasthan picking up four wickets for 33 runs.
But mostly it has been a collective effort from the bowlers, especially the pace trio of Ben Hilfenhaus, Ishwar Pandey and Mohit Sharma, who were accurate with their swing bowling.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Michael Hussey, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Corey Anderson, Josh Hazlewood, CM Gautam, Aditya Tare, Apoorv Wankhade, Marchant de Lange, Krishmar Santokie, Ben Dunk, Pawan Suyal, Sushant Marathe, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Gopal, Jalaj Saxena.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Suresh Raina, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, Samuel Badree, Ben Hilfenhaus, Matt Henry, B Aparajith, Mithun Manhas, Ishwar Pandey, Pawan Negi, Vijay Shankar, Ronit More, John Hastings.