Chennai: Smarting from the narrow defeat in their opening IPL tie, Mumbai Indians will have their task cut out when they lock horns with two-time winners Chennai Super Kings here tomorrow at a venue, which has been guarded like a fortress by the home team.
Mumbai came close to beating Royal Challengers Bangalore a couple of nights back, before going down by two runs in a thrilling last-ball finish.
And the Ricky Ponting-led side now faces another stern test against a side that arguably has got the best record in the cash-rich Twenty20 league, having won it twice in 2010 and 2011.
Going into the much-anticipated clash, Mumbai also must be well aware of the fact that the hosts have an impeccable record at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Chennai wouldn't have the services of Albie Morkel, who is to play for the Titans in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge final in South Africa.
Also missing the action in the first few games would be Faf du Plessis as the big-hitting batsman is down with an injury.
With the Sri Lankan players not allowed to play in Chennai, the home side will miss the services of Nuwan Kulasekara and Akila Dananjaya. Chennai have one of the most settled combinations among the nine teams.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has led from the front over the past few seasons. Then there is the left-handed Suresh Raina in the middle-order and opener Murali Vijay, whose confidence must have been boosted after a prolific Test series against Australia.
Among the foreigners, Michael Hussey and Dwayne Bravo will be the two men to watch out for. Not to forget the presence of Subramaniam Badrinath who can defend as well use to long handle to good effect.
As far as CSK's bowling is concerned, they have in their ranks India's new spin twins in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The spinners are coming off a fantastic Test series against Australia.
Jadeja would fit in as the all-rounder at number seven, while Ashwin is no bunny with the bat either. There is also left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati. For the two fast-bowling slots, there would be competition between the foreign recruits -— Ben Hilfenhaus, Dirk Nannes, Jason Holder and Ben Laughlin.
Hilfenhaus will be expected to make the cut as he did well for them last season. Nannes merits the pacer's slot ahead of the others given his speciality for the format.
Coming back to the Mumbai Indians, they will be eager to set things right after a botched-up chase let the side down at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
For the visitors to effect a turnaround, greats like Sachin Tendulkar and Ponting will be expected to guide the side by example.
Both Tendulkar and Ponting, arguably the two greatest batsmen in modern cricket, are highly respected by the best of bowlers no matter where they are playing. The fierce competitors that they are, both will look to get good scores.
While MI has the all-round ability to test any side, they will need to get their combination right. They might be tempted to send the big-hitting West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard up the order.
Rohit Sharma will be hoping to find some form after yet another failure, while wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik will be look to continue his good form on his home ground.
The talented Ambati Rayudu, too, would be eager to score some runs after managing just 18 in the opening match. Talking about MI's bowling, newcomer Jaspreet Bumrah emerged as the surpriser element against RCB, returning impressive figures of three for 32.
Mitchell Johnson showed admirable control last night, and the others were also decent.
Mumbai Indians: Ricky Ponting (c), Abu Nechim Ahmed, Akshar Patel, Aditya Tare, Aiden Blizzard, Ambati Rayudu, Amitoze Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Harbhajan Singh, Jacob Oram, Jalaj Saxena, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Munaf Patel, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Phil Hughes, Pawan Suyal, Pragyan Ojha, Rishi Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Suryakumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe, Yuzvendra Singh Chahal.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c/wk), Srikkanth Anirudha Baba Aparajith, Ravichandran Ashwin, Subramaniam Badrinath, Dwayne Bravo, Akila Dananjaya, Faf du Plessis, Ben Hilfenhaus, Jason Holder, Michael Hussey, Imtiaz Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, Shadab Jakati, R Karthikeyan, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ben Laughlin, Ronit More, Albie Morkel, Chris Morris, Dirk Nannes, Suresh Raina, Ankit Rajpoot, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Vijay Shankar, Mohit Sharma, Murali Vijay.