It’s cricket’s answer to the El Clasico. The clash between IPL giants Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians may not be as historical as the football classic featuring Spanish arch-rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona, but whenever these two cricket franchises -- most successful having won three titles each -- cross swords, expectations reach dizzying heights.
The two teams have played each other 28 times (including two CLT20 matches) with Mumbai leading the head-to-head 16-12. They have also been involved in three finals with Mumbai having the better of the exchanges at 2-1. The authorities couldn’t have asked for a better contest to set the tone for the playoffs than Chennai meeting Mumbai again, in the Qualifier 1 at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
Players from both sides know the significance of the showdown. It was at Chepauk where Hardik Pandya first announced his arrival with a blitzkrieg in 2015 to help Mumbai end CSK’s 10-match winning spree. And Mumbai did it again this year by halting Super Kings’ home run.
After Mumbai’s win over Kolkata in the final league game, Pandya made his intentions clear. "Now, I’m focusing on the Chennai game. It will be a cracking match,” said Pandya.
Rohit Sharma, captain of Mumbai Indians, summed up the intensity at which the big guns face off.
“I’m not talking about fights, but the passion that we see in a Liverpool vs Man United game or you know the El Clasico (Real vs Barca), it is the same when Mumbai and Chennai play in India. And you can make out these things, especially from the overseas players,” said Rohit. “Tuesday’s match is a different challenge. We just hope to get the best out of that one and go through to the final.”
Having lost their last two home matches against Mumbai, Super Kings have a score to settle. M.S. Dhoni who had missed the previous match due to a bout of fever is back. The superstar captain has scored 576 runs at a strike-rate of 145.82 against Mumbai.
Former India cricketer Hemang Badani feels it’s the turn of CSK. “They will be happy to be back in their den for the first qualifier. It’s their kind of surface and one where they would fancy playing on,” Badani said....