Defending champions Mumbai Indians face an uphill task to keep their play-off hopes alive as they will be eyeing victory in their Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter against a formidable Chennai Super Kings (CSK) at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Saturday. The Rohit Sharma-led side are languishing at the seventh place in the eight-team points table after managing a single win from six games so far while CSK top the chart with five wins from six matches. When the two sides met earlier in this year's league at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, CSK had pipped the hosts by one wicket and a ball to spare. Saturday's game will be a must-win encounter for Mumbai if they want to keep their hopes alive in the tournament. So far, the Mumbai batsmen have struggled, except for Suryakumar Yadav. Both the skipper and Kieron Pollard have failed to fire in five of the six games. Barring the match-winning knock of 94 runs against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Rohit failed to get past 20 runs in five innings.
Not just the batsmen, but Mumbai bowlers have also let the team down. The twenty-year-old leggie Mayank Markande has been the find for Mumbai but lacked support from others.
While Markande has scalped 10 wickets from six games, pacer Jasprit Bumrah has eight wickets in his kitty.
However, Bumrah, known as a 'death overs' specialist, and Bangladesh pacer Muztafizur Rahman have not lived up to the expectations after leaking plenty of runs in the late stages.
Mumbai bowlers will need to perform as a unit to stop an in-form CSK batters.
On the other hand, Chennai have once again shown why they are considered as the most successful IPL team and will be looking to continue their dream run in the league.
Most of CSK batsmen - Shane Watson, Ambati Rayadu, Dwayne Bravo and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni are in form. Only Suresh Raina has failed to click and will be desperate to find his touch.
While Rayudu has amassed 283 runs from six games, averaging 47.16, Dhoni and Watson have accumulated 209 and 191 runs respectively.
Chennai batsmen have fired on more than one occassion, guiding the team home. The yellow brigade has the ability to put a massive total on board or chase any challenging target.
In the bowling department, Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar have been impressive, leading Chennai's pace attack.
While Thakur has eight wickets from five games, Chahar has six wickets from as many games.
Also, all-rounder Watson has six wickets to his name with an economy of around eight.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir, medium-pacer Dwayne Bravo and leggie Karn Sharma have also came with breakthroughs for CSK at crucial times.
Keeping in view their fine form, Chennai will once again be the favourites in Saturday's game against Mumbai.
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Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni(captain/wicketkeeper), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willey
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mustafizur Rahman, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Rahul Chahar, Evin Lewis, Saurabh Tiwary, Ben Cutting, Pradeep Sangwan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Tajinder Singh, Sharad Lumba, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Mayank Markande, Akila Dananjaya, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, MD Nidheesh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne
(With IANS Inputs)