Chennai against Mumbai is an all-star affair

Make no mistake about it. With the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Herschelle Gibbs, Suresh Raina, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga in the mix, Game 1 of Indian Premier League V between title holders Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians here at Chepauk today will be an all-star affair.

Men-toring: Mumbai Indians skipper Harbhajan Singh (left) discusses a point with Sachin Tendulkar yesterday.

In fact, the odds floated by leading betting exchanges around the world give Mumbai and Chennai an edge over others to win IPL-V. Over the last two editions of the tournament, Mumbai and Chennai registered more victories than any other team in the league phase.

Top performers
IPL-V’s opening game will feature the highest run-getter and top wicket-taker in IPL history. Chennai Super Kings’ Raina tops the list of run-getters, while his UP teammate RP Singh — MI’s latest recruit — remains the leading wicket-taker in IPL. While Raina has 1813 runs from 62 games at 36.26, RP has 64 wickets.

Both teams have shared honours evenly in the eight previous meetings between them. In the most recent clash, at the Wankhede Stadium last season, the Mumbai Indians got the better of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men by eight runs.

Three finals
But Chennai have proven to be the better side in the knockout phases, having made the finals thrice in four editions. Also, in the only two outings between the sides at Chennai, the home team has come out on top. That’s primarily because of R Ashwin’s exploits on the sluggish surface here.

Having won back-to-back IPL titles, there is a chance for Dhoni’s band to complete a hat-trick of victories. “We don’t think about result. It is a longish tournament close to 60 days.

So targeting a result right from the start will be very difficult. If one starts thinking too much about the result, the burden of expectation may not help a player perform upto his potential. We will like to take one game at a time,” Dhoni said.

Dhoni feels that Team India teammate had the ability to blossom into a good leader. “Bhajji is a fighter. He is someone who loves challenges. He is good as a skipper. He brings value to the side,” he said.

Mahanedra Singh Dhoni’s wishlist
>> Ravindra Jadeja, IPL’s latest two-million-dollar man executes the role of premier all-rounder to perfection.
>> Doug Bollinger continues to be the ace of pace.
>> R Ashwin continues to be economical in the power-play overs.
>> Chepauk wicket continues to assist slower bowlers.
>> Continues his glorious partnership with Suresh Raina like in previous IPLs.

Harbhajan Singh’s wishlist
>> Mumbai continue their opening match winning streak in the competition.
>> New recruit Richard Levi, who announced his arrival on the international stage with the fastest Twenty20 international hundred, lives up to the hype.
>> Pragyan Ojha, who has 62 wickets from 52 IPL matches does well again.
>> Sachin Tendulkar continues to reinvent himself as a Twenty20 batsman.
>> Pace duo of Lasith Malinga and Munaf Patel continue taking wickets in tandem. 

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