Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians – there ain't not lightweights in this contest; no underdog. It is a straight up fight between two heavyweights of IPL cricket, with the winner of Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday set to sail straight into the IPL 2015 final at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.
CSK, as they always seem to, qualified for the playoffs for the eighth consecutive time in IPL cricket, while also easing to the top spot. While it was pretty much a cruise for CSK in the league stages, the same cannot be said for the MI, who had to win seven of their last eight games to qualify for the knockout rounds, with their final win – against Sunrisers Hyderabad – taking them all the way to second spot.
Qualifier 1, in many ways, gives both teams an opportunity to express themselves as much as possible, as a loss in this particular match does not mean the end of the season for the losing side.
While the winner of Qualifier 1 will make a safe passage into the final, the loser will get another bite, playing the winner of the Eliminator on Friday.
While CSK were easily the best side in the league phase of IPL 2015, MI have the advantage going into this match, in the fact that the match will be played at the Wankhede. Fortress is very much the word to be used to describe Mumbai Indians' home ground, and with those blue and white flags set to wave by the thousands, CSK will have to be at their absolute best to seal their place in the IPL 2015 final at the first time of asking.
In order to do that, Chennai Super Kings will probably look at their last match against MI at the Wankhede, where they beat the home team comfortably by six wickets. Chasing down a big score, CSK, led by their top three – Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina – made mincemeat of the MI bowling attack to haul down a 184-run target in 16.4 overs.
The problem this time, however, will be that one of the top three, and arguably the most important one – McCullum – will not be available. The New Zealand skipper has already left for the tour of England, and CSK will be crossing their fingers that the experienced Michael Hussey steps up admirably in his stead.
While Hussey might score runs, there will be no doubt that CSK will miss McCullum's explosiveness at the top. The Kiwi has the ability to tear the bowling apart early on in such a manner that the outcome of the match can be decided. Mumbai Indians will certainly be happy to not have to bowl to the right-handed marauder.
The home team will also take heart from the fact that they beat CSK the last time the two teams met, and that too in the Super Kings' Chennai fortress. That one also was a pretty comfortable victory, with MI restricting the CSK batsmen to 158, before chasing down the target with four balls and six wickets to spare.
Rohit Sharma has spoken about playing fearless cricket in the playoffs, particularly Qualifier 1, where you don't have to worry about your season coming to an end, and MI will need to do just that if they are to get the better of CSK, who have the unerring ability to play the big moments in the big games well.
Where to Watch Live
Get the Report and Match Highlights HERE
Get the Match As It Happened HERE
CSK vs MI IPL 2015 Qualifier 1 is scheduled for an 8 pm IST (10.30 am ET, 3.30 pm BST) start with live TV coverage in India on Sony Max (Hindi), Sony Six (English), Sony Aath (Bengali) and Sony Kix (Tamil and Telugu). Hotstar and Starsports.com is the place to be to watch the IPL 2015 Playoff match via live streaming online in India.
Viewers in the US can catch the IPL 2015 action live on ESPN and the game can also be live streamed on the internet on ESPN Cricket.
Cricketgateway.com will provide viewers from across the world the option of watching Live the MI vs CSK match.