After an enthralling league stage of IPL 2015, it is time for the Playoffs to begin as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) take on Mumbai Indians (MI) in Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede in Mumbai.
The contest will witness a consistent team, with MS Dhoni at the helm, and the in-form team, led by Rohit Sharma, vying for a place in the final of the competition. MI have been on an amazing run of late, as they have won seven out of their last eight matches, which also includes a six-wicket victory over CSK.
Hence, the 2013 IPL winners will be upbeat, but their big players need to come out all guns blazing, if they are to progress to what will be only their third IPL final. The CSK players will also, no doubt, give it their all to stop MI from defeating them.
Here is a look at some players, who needs to be on top of their game for this crucial encounter.
Chennai Super Kings
MS Dhoni – The Indian skipper has led the CSK side ever since the first edition of IPL in 2008 and has been a major success winning the title in 2010 and 2011. It is not only his batting ability which will be required to be in full show today, but also his leadership skills, which has been exemplary. Coming into bat during the middle overs, MS Dhoni has played as per the situation and unleashed his big shots in the final overs of the game. He has scored 328 runs in IPL 2015 so far and one can expect Dhoni to come good when the chips are down as well.
Michael Hussey – Though, the Australian might not be a like-to-like replacement for Brendon McCullum, his IPL experience of 56 matches will be handy for CSK, as Hussey is expected to open the innings alongside Dwayne Smith. With aggressive players such as Smith, Suresh Raina and Dhoni in their ranks, Hussey's anchoring role at the top of the order might prove to be what the doctor orderer for CSK and, make no mistake, Hussey can tonk bowlers all around the park as well, when required. He has an overall strike rate of 122.96 in the IPL.
Dwayne Bravo – Very few could have predicted Bravo to be highest wicket taker in the tournament, after the completion of the league stages. He has bowled wisely in IPL 2015 and has always delivered when Dhoni has thrown the ball to him, irrespective of it being during the middle overs or slog overs. With an average of 16.45, he has taken 20 wickets in IPL 2015 so far. Bravo can also use his willow to good effect if required.
Mitchell McClenaghan – The New Zealand bowler has been impressive in his first IPL season, taking 14 wickets. McClenaghan was the architect behind their last win against Sunrisers Hyderabad as well, where he scalped three wickets for 16 runs. It is going to be an intriguing contest between the dangerous CSK top order and McClenaghan. MI skipper Rohit Sharma will be on cloud nine if McClenaghan knocks out the CSK top order at the earliest, like he did against SRH.
Lendl Simmons – Aaron Finch's injury seems to have been a blessing in disguise to Mumbai Indians, as Simmons has taken full advantage, scoring 407 runs in the tournament from just 11 matches. The West Indian has given some solid starts to MI, which has been one of the main reasons for the team's success of late. Simmons does not go all out to attack the bowlers, but plays with controlled-aggression to provide a platform for big hitters like Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma to make full use of in the latter stages of the innings.
Rohit Sharma – The elegant right-hander is the highest runs scorer for MI this season with 413 runs and the team will once again be looking forward to his batting heroics. Rohit Sharma's ability to clear the fence against both the seamers as well as the spinners with utmost ease makes him a dangerous batsman. If the MI are to reach the finals, Rohit Sharma will have a huge role to play with the bat.