In what could be another riveting clash, defending champions Chennai Super Kings will take on Mumbai Indians in their return fixture of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.
After eight wins from 11 games and 16 points in their kitty, Chennai have already qualified for the playoffs. However, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will certainly like to keep the winning momentum going as the top two teams on the points table get an additional chance to make it to the final.
Mumbai are placed third with 12 points and are yet to consolidate their position in the top four, with at least two more wins necessary to seal a playoff berth. The Rohit Sharma-led side, however, had outclassed the yellow brigade by 37 runs when they last faced-off in Mumbai.
Mumbai however, must be cautious against Chennai as Dhoni and company have not lost a single game at their home so far in this year's league. Chennai have won all of their five games at the Chepauk.
Both the sides have faced each other in 27 matches in IPL history and Mumbai have won 15 of those games, while Chennai have managed to win the remaining 12.
The Chennai camp would be a little relaxed after their last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, which they won convincingly by six wickets. Opener Shane Watson, who failed to click in the earlier part of the season, finally regained his form smashing a brilliant 53-ball 96.
Also, Dhoni has been amongst the runs. The stumper has amassed 314 runs from 10 games with an impressive average of 104.66.
Chennai's only concern in the batting department will be opener Faf du Plessis, who has managed to gather only 179 runs from seven games.
In their bowling, Dhoni is likely to stick with his winning combination and would once again go with two spinners in Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir as the wicket in Chepauk has helped the spinners this season. Tahir has had a fantastic season bagging 16 wickets from 11 games and has always achieved breakthroughs whenever necessary.
The pace attack will be led by Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur.
On the other hand in their last encounter, Mumbai suffered a five-wicket defeat against Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur.
Rohit's men didn't do much wrong in the game as batting first they posted a respectable total of 161/5. The bowlers also bowled decently as they picked up wickets at crucial moments. However, Mumbai still failed to cross the line.
But to win against Chennai, who are in their top form, Mumbai will need to play as a single unit.
The three-time champions will once again rely on their opener Quinton de Kock, who has accumulated 378 runs from 10 games and has mostly given fine starts to his side. Also, a lot will depend on Hardik Pandya who has scored quick runs down the batting order many a time this season.
Their pace attack will be spearheaded by Jasprit Bumrah, who has 11 wickets from 10 games and has bowled well in the death overs. Apart from him, medium-pacer Hardik Pandya and Lasith Maling will also need to strike at regular intervals. The spin responsibility will be on the shoulders of Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya.
Overall, another exciting clash is on the cards as the two arch-rivals and also the two best teams in the league's history face-off in the business end of the tournament.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (Captain/wicket-keeper), Faf du Plessis, Kedar Jadhav, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Shane Watson, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir, Mitchell Santner, Dwayne Bravo, Sam Billings, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Monu Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Ruturaj Gaikwad, KM Asif, David Willey.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper), Ishan Kishan, Evin Lewis, Adam Milne, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Rahul Chahar, Ben Cutting, Mayank Markande, Suryakumar Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga, Siddhesh Lad, Anmolpreet Singh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Yuvraj Singh, Aditya Tare, Anukul Sudhakar Roy, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Pankaj Jaiswal.