Previewing a three-hour playoff contest between two IPL teams is pretty hard. It requires the writer to extrapolate and interpolate based on already small sample sizes. I can look through my lime yellow colored glasses and identify fifteen different reasons the Chennai Super Kings will win the game. For each of those reasons, there’s a counter that involves Malinga, Sachin, Rohit and Rayudu.
So this is not a preview or a prediction of today’s big IPL elimination game between the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians. Instead, this is five random but relevant nuggets and thoughts that I think anyone who’s watching the game tonight will find interesting.
Here we go,
a) Chinnaswamy stadium is extremely batsman-friendly – Going back to the T-20 Champions’ league games played in Bangalore in September-October 2011, the average score at the Chinnaswamy stadium is 167. In the seven IPL games held there this year, teams batting first have averaged 173 while teams chasing have averaged 158. All of these are higher than mean scores at every other IPL venue. The ground is extremely batsmen-friendly even by Indian standards and hence I think this game will not be won/lost at the intermission.
b) Mumbai has won four straight against Chennai – Since the IPL final at the DY Patil stadium in 2010, these two teams have met each other four times – Twice in Mumbai and Twice in Chennai. Mumbai has won on all four occasions including this nerve wracker at last year’s Champions’ League. If you believe in the law of averages you will believe that it is going to be very hard to beat a quality side five times in a row. If you’re a reverse jinxing Chennai fan, you probably say that Mumbai has Chennai’s number!
c) Ben Hilfenhaus has some unfinished business – Ben Hilfenhaus has been outstanding and consistent for Chennai. His impact has been Narine-esque. Remove those three extraordinary strokes at the death in the previous game against Mumbai by Dwayne Smith and Hilfenhaus’ figures in that game read 2 wickets for 20 runs. He’s picked up 10 wickets for 146 runs in his six appearances so far and has one blemish to show for it. I think it is reasonable to expect that Hilfenhaus will look at the Mumbai lineup and new opener Dwayne Smith as unfinished business and will produce a spell worthy of the occasion for his team. What say you, Chennai fans?
d) Mumbai’s negative run differential – Baseball and football have their own Pythagorean formulas. They both imply that teams that have winning records but negative run/point differentials tend to fall fairly quickly and are beneficiaries of a lot of luck/good health. Mumbai is the only team remaining in the competition which has a negative run differential. Over 16 games, they have conceded 30 more runs than they have scored. Time for a correction?
e) Rest and crowd support – Chennai is coming off a five-day break. Rest can be fairly precious coming at the end of a draining summer tournament and incredibly long cricket calendar. Rest can also imply rust and a slow start for the defending champions. It will be interesting to see how the rest affects Chennai. Lastly, while the game is in neutral territory I would expect Bangalore to have a very healthy Chennai contingent at the stadium. Crowd support hasn’t proven to make much of a difference in the tournament so far with top teams winning as many games away from home as at home. But in a crunch situation, I expect it’d make a tangible favorable difference. What say you Chennai and Mumbai fans?
Enjoy the game all! If you want to revisit the previous game between these two sides please read this.