IPL 2023: It's Rohit flair vs Dhoni's acumen as MI lock horns with CSK on Saturday night
Rested well for a week after their their crushing loss against RCB in season-opener, Mumbai Indians will certainly be under additional pressure in front of their passionate home fans.
MUMBAI: Rohit Sharma will like to get his act together both as a batter as well as skipper, when his star-studded Mumbai Indians take on an astute Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings in what could be safely billed as a Saturday night IPL blockbuster.
Rested well for a week after their their crushing loss against RCB in season-opener, Mumbai Indians will certainly be under additional pressure in front of their passionate home fans here at the Wankhede Stadium.
More so, given how ruthlessly they were blown away by Royal Challengers Bangalore in a one-sided game with Virat Kohli taking the MI attack to cleaners.
But to their advantage, inexperience of Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Tushar Deshpande, both warned by their skipper Dhoni for bowling wides and no-balls, will find the batting-friendly Wankhede track very challenging.
How well spinners Moeen Ali and Mitchell Santner bowl will also decide CSK's fate against the five-time champions.
There will be however be a case for Sisanda Magala, who is known to nail wide yorkers for South Africa might replace Santner in the playing XI.
The focus will be a little extra on Mi skipper Sharma, who hasn't exactly set the IPL stage on fire for a few seasons.
The Indian skipper has had his share of blazing starts but a big knock has eluded him for quite some time now.
In a small ground with short side boundaries, how well Jofra Archer bowls will hold key for MI as the likes of Arshad Khan, Cameron Green could be lambs for slaughter for in-form Ruturaj Gaikwad or Devon Conway.
Sharma has fronted questions over Bumrah's absence consistently but Mumbai Indians have also looked to plug in the holes by roping in Australian quick Riley Meredith in place of the injured Jhye Richardson, and Sandeep Warrier replacing the Indian star gives them another option.
The fresh track at the Wankhede can be expected to have some initial assistance for fast bowlers and as home team, Mumbai Indians would certainly want to make the most of it, especially given that CSK themselves have struggled in this department in their last two games.
MI will also be anxious about how their other batting star Suryakumar Yadav front up against an inexperienced attack.
Young Tilak Verma waged a lone battle to save the blushes against RCB for MI with the bat and Punjab lad Nehal Wadhera was also impressive on debut.
But the team will look to put up a collective batting effort starting from the top-order.
In Chennai line-up, Gaikwad's imperious form with the bat and his pairing with the indomitable Convway is best attack weapon for the 'Yellow Brigade'.
With two fifties in as many games, Gaikwad has lit up the IPL stage in the best way possible and his side would only wish that the right-hander is able to carry the momentum from one game to the next.
Conway missed out on a half-century against Lucknow Super Giants but he put on a century stand with Gaikwad to announce his return to form.
Shivam Dube and Moeen Ali are vital cogs for CSK in the middle-order, for whom the venerable Ambati Rayudu and Dhoni have also fired at important junctions, making them look like a better batting line-up in comparison to MI.
In bowling department, Deepak Chahar has looked subdued on comeback following a long injury lay-off but the India and CSK seamer will hope to make the most of conditions if some underlying moisture is there on offer.
For what it is worth, Mumbai Indians can also draw confidence from the fact that they have 20 wins in 34 meetings against Chennai Super Kings in a head-to-head battle in 13 out of the 15 editions where the two teams locked horns.
Squads: Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Suryakumar Yadav, Tim David, Dewald Brevis, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Tristan Stubbs, Vishnu Vinod, Cameron Green, Arjun Tendulkar, Ramandeep Singh, Shams Mulani, Riley Meredith Nehal Wadhera, Hrithik Shokeen, Arshad Khan, Duan Jansen, Piyush Chawla, Kumar Kartikeya, Raghav Goyal, Jofra Archer, Jason Behrendorff, Akash Madhwal.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Ravindra Jadeja, Ajinkya Rahane, Sisanda Magala, Shivam Dube, Dwaine Pretorius, Ajay Mandal, Nishant Sindhu, Rajvardhan Hangargekar, Mitchell Santner, Subhranshu Senapati, Simarjeet Singh, Matheesha Pathirana, Mahesh Theekshana, Bhagath Verma, Prashant Solanki, Shaikh Rasheed, Tushar Deshpande.
Time: 7:30 PM IST.