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IPL 2020: Mumbai Indians face Chennai Super Kings in opening clash

For a sports scribe living in Mumbai, the two days prior to the IPL game between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings are the most dreaded. Not because your editor asks you to get an elusive MS Dhoni exclusive, but because you suddenly discover friends and relatives you thought never existed. Everyone wants passes in…

IPL 2020: Mumbai Indians face Chennai Super Kings in opening clash

For a sports scribe living in Mumbai, the two days prior to the IPL game between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings are the most dreaded. Not because your editor asks you to get an elusive MS Dhoni exclusive, but because you suddenly discover friends and relatives you thought never existed. Everyone wants passes in multiples of 10 for the game.

Yes, MI vs CSK is your quintessential ‘big-ticket’ encounter. And it is indeed ironic that the lung-opener of this delayed edition of IPL 13, played in the UAE because of the Covid-19 pandemic, would have no tickets to the match as the tournament is for a TV-only audience.


So, why then is MI vs CSK, the El Clasico of the IPL?

1. They have won seven titles between them.

2. They have played each other 28 times, more than any other outfits.

3. They have contested four IPL finals.

4. They are led by two Indian superstars, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni, both tactically astute.

The last point is noteworthy as both cricketers have their followers in each other’s dens. The crowd in Mumbai, despite wanting Mumbai Indians to win, does not jeer a Chennai Super Kings fan wearing a No. 7 jersey. There are fans in Chennai too, who sport the deep blue No.45 with pride. Cricket, like politics, polarizes, but does not make you hate.

Dhoni, so often labelled as Captain Cool for his demeanour, has a rightful claimant to that tag in Rohit. Like MSD, the Hitman does not believe in giving his players a public dressing down. Like Dhoni, the opener does not change the field after every boundary or a six. Like Dhoni, Rohit believes in giving a player a decent run.

And who better than Rohit to appreciate that and learn from it as it is the talent of Rohit that Dhoni backed incessantly for years while captaining India and the Mumbai stylist redeemed himself to become a modern white-ball colossus.

MI and CSK also boast of having the most settled teams and support staff members, thus proving that stability, even in T20, can be rewarding.

CSK have played eight finals and lost five. Three of them to MI. Dhoni has played nine, including one for Rising Pune Super Giant in 2017. He has lost two finals by one run to MI.

After an even record initially, MI have dominated them of late, winning eight of the last nine games. The last five wins have been on the trot. One of MI’s trusted lieutenants, Ambati Rayudu, wears the famous yellow now and is expected to bat at No.3 where Suresh Raina, so often the thorn in MI’s flesh with 818 runs against them, does, but won’t be there this time. Dhoni himself is ageing as is Faf du Plessis. Harbhajan Singh has pulled out. Deepak Chahar is coming off a Covid-19 infection. Ruturaj Gaikwad is uncertain for the game. Dwayne Bravo‘s bowling fitness is dodgy.

CSK have CHAOS written all over in bold and capitals. MI seem more settled. They have youth, a massive head-to-head advantage and a more well-rounded squad. The last few encounters between the two sides have been dramatic but certain moves, like Rohit giving Malinga the last over in the 2019 final despite the Lankan veteran having an ordinary game, appeared to lack logic. But the move conjured a dramatic win.

The great filmmaker of suspense thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock, had once said, “When logic ends, drama begins.” Few events in 2020 seem logical. But there has been drama. Expect more of it in UAE.


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