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Cricket news - CSK look to dodge Mumbai blues

Mumbai Indians have already beaten CSK earlier this season

The meteorological department has predicted for some cool weather with rainy spells in Chennai over the next week. But, it's anything but cool or pleasant in the tables of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The city is gearing up for the mother of all clashes in the cash-rich tournament, it's the battle between two three-time IPL champions, it's a clash between the two most balanced outfits at the MA Chidambaram stadium.

The hosts, who have won five out of five at this venue this season have galloped away at speed, securing 16 points from 11 games. Dhoni's Super Kings halted a two-match losing streak with an emphatic 6-wicket win over the Sunrisers on Tuesday (April 23rd), a result that has all but confirmed them a place in the playoffs. But they have a few points to prove on Friday - they are up against a team that handed them their first defeat of the season, in Mumbai. This is also the team that has a slight wood on them - having beaten them in the finals of the 2013 and 2015 edition of the IPL. So what better than stalling the chances of one team that has proved to be their nemesis before? Cricket at times is a mental battle and if there's one team CSK would love to avoid in the playoff, it's the Mumbai Indians.

Most of the talk around matches in Chennai have centered around the 'pitch'. The slowness on show during the first four games was conspicuous by its absence in the encounter against the Sunrisers? Was it to negate the impact of Rashid Khan & co.? If so, it certainly proved to be a masterstroke as the Afghan star endured a miserable outing. However, with the presence of several big-hitters in this Mumbai Indians line-up, it might not be a surprise if the hosts go back to their tried and trusted policy of 'square turners'.

While it certainly brings their spinners into play, it's a 'balancing act' - as far as their batsmen go. On a true wicket, Shane Watson showed how good he could be at the top of the order, Suresh Raina enjoys the ball coming onto the bat and so does skipper, MS Dhoni. As things stand now, the Super Kings are well on their way to finishing at the top two, guaranteeing themselves at least one playoff game at home. But with the finals being taken away from Chennai to Hyderabad, it also means that the franchise will have to find a perfect balance between bat and ball - which might necessarily mean a truer wicket on Friday.

It also means that the power-packed Mumbai Indians middle-order might enjoy the conditions more than the hosts. As well as the spinners have bowled, CSK's bowling hasn't been the perfect package. The pitch - the same as the one that hosted Tuesday's game - was under the canopies on match-eve, with the ground-staff working on it feverishly.

When: CSK vs MI, 44th Match, Friday, April 26th at 8 PM

Where: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

What to expect: Two days before the match, the pitch was watered generously, but the sapping heat would have ensured that another dry surface awaits the two teams. It could well be a battle between the spinners, with variations being the order of the day for the pacers. As for the temperatures, it should be another hot and muggy day.

Team News

Michael Hussey, CSK's batting coach confirmed that there was no injury concerns in the CSK camp, although Sam Billings has left for England and dislocated his shoulder while playing for Kent. Having opted to rest after a grueling encounter against SRH, the Dhoni-led team were out in full force at the nets a day before the game. With Shane Watson finding form and the policy of the team management to give long ropes to every player, expect no change to the playing XI.

Probable Playing XI: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir

The Mumbai Indians have had a six-day break since their last match against Rajasthan Royals and they have also been fortified by the arrival of Beuran Hendricks. Although the conditions in Chennai favour slow bowlers, they might think of getting Jason Behrendorff in place of Ben Cutting. Mayank Markande was expensive in the last match against Rajasthan Royals and might make way for Ishan Kishan - who batted for a lengthy amount of time in the nets.

Probable Playing XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Surya Kumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Jason Behrendorff, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah

What they said

The pitch I thought really improved for the last match, it played really well, we aren't sure what a good score was, but having seen the batsmen hit through the line, it showed that the pitch played better, it's a good sign, I think - Michael Hussey, CSK's batting coach isn't worried about the tricky Chepauk surface.

I see this as an opportunity to strengthen the Mumbai Indians bowling line-up, will be great working with some of the best in the business - Beuran Hendricks, who just joined the MI camp on Wednesday, is looking forward to picking the brains of the bowling coaches.

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