Mumbai Indians' all-rounder believes if his side can continue playing fearlessly they can beat Chennai Super Kings in the Eliminator
Very few fans would have put their money on Mumbai Indians breaking into the IPL-7 play-offs after their disastrous first leg in the United Arab Emirates where they lost all the five games.
Also read: Taming Corey Anderson today will be CSK's massive gain
Corey Anderson (left) and Harbhajan Singh during a practice session at the Brabourne Stadium yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
But not for nothing are they the defending champions, and as fate would have it, Rohit Sharma's men find themselves up against Chennai Super Kings in the Eliminator to be played at the Cricket Club of India's Brabourne Stadium this evening.
In pictures: MI celebrate IPL 7 play-off berth after win
MI have impressed everyone with their brilliant fightback, winning seven of their last nine games, but are up against a side that has been the most consistent in the short history of the competition.
All-rounder Corey Anderson, whose phenomenal knock against RR ensured MI's passage, is guarded about his team's prospects tonight. "CSK have always been good in the IPL, so let's see what happens. I would say that there is a lot of luck involved as well."
So how has the near improbable win over RR, where they chased 190 for victory off 14.4 overs, changed the team's mindset? Has it made MI more fearless? Anderson said: "Yeah, I reckon it does. A lot of people had written us off coming into that game, so, to pull off what people thought was impossible was a pretty good feeling.
"It's almost a sense of relief that we're now in the play-offs, where every team starts on an even playing field. If we can continue to play fearlessly, we have a real shot at winning this."
It may be recalled that Anderson had struggled throughout the tournament before the knock against RR. "I did my job really well the other day. Twenty20 is the one format in which I have struggled the most. The more I play it, the more I'm learning," he reasoned.
The CCI is hosting its first IPL game this season, therefore, the pitch will be a bit of a mystery for both sides. Anderson reckoned: "It's a foreign venue for me, as it will be for a few other guys.
Regardless of the boundary size we have to play well, adapt to how the wicket behaves and come up with a rough idea of what we can score early on in our innings."
Last match key moments (10-5-2014)
> Mumbai Indian riding on a fine batting performance by Ambati Rayudu (59) and Lendl Simmons (38) made a modest 157-6 in 20 overs. The duo added 61 for the second wicket
> Dwayne Smith kept CSK on course with his blistering 57 off 51 balls hitting five fours and three sixes. Though in-form Brendon McCullum (13) and Suresh Raina (19) were out, it was the 63-run stand between Smith and Faf du Plessis (31) that kept the scoreboard moving
> Smith's dismissal triggered a mini collapse as CSK from a comfortable 119-2 were reduced to 147-6. It was then left to MS Dhoni (22) to finish off the task and he did it in style. CSK went on to win by four wickets with three balls to spare
IPL on TV: Mumbai Indians vs CSK, Live on Sony Max, Sony Six & Sony Six HD, 20:00
1. Forget the euphoria of Sunday
There have been numerous instances where teams, having played out of their skin to win a key clash, go on to falter in the next encounter. The main reason for this is the emotional toll that the previous game had taken on the victors. Mumbai Indians must overcome this devil tonight.
2. Open well, shut it tight
A key reason for MI's struggle in the first leg of the competition in UAE was the failure of the openers. But ever since they have entrusted Lendl Simmons and Mike Hussey with the job, very little has gone wrong for the defending champions. They need to show the way now more than ever.
Eyes on the ball: Mumbai Indians players warm up with a game of football. Pic/Suresh KK
3. Corey must stay hot
All-rounder Corey Anderson was a different beast against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday night, hitting an unbeaten 95 off 44 balls. And, as Kings XI Punjab's Glenn Maxwell has shown, lightning can strike twice in a span of a couple of days! The Kiwi will have to fly high tonight as well.
4. Contain McCullum and Smith
Mumbai must contain Chennai openers Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith, because this pair has murdered bowlers in the tournament. While McCullum has hit 380 in 12 outings, Smith has raced to a whopping 535 in 14 games. Mumbai bowlers need to be extremely sharp to get rid of them cheaply.
5. Turn it like Bhajji
While most bowlers have been sent on a leather hunt, the veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's economy rate has been mighty impressive. He has bowled 51 overs, given away 329 runs, taken 12 wickets and managed an economy rate of 6.45. Need one say more?
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