Chennai: Handed a reality check in their last league fixture, defending champions Chennai Super Kings will bank on home advantage to seal their place in when they take on a confident Mumbai Indians in the Qualifier 1 on Tuesday.
After the gruelling league phase of the ongoing IPL, the stage is set for the Playoffs with CSK and MI clashing for a place in 12 May's final. There is hardly anything to differentiate between the two sides when it comes to their trophy cabinet, as both CSK and MI have won the title three times.
The Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led CSK has been patchy after a strong start and finished its league engagements with a six-wicket defeat to Kings XI Punjab in Mohali on Sunday.
But CSK will be happy to return to their den to take on table-toppers MI, probably its biggest IPL rival, to decide which team seals a spot in the final.
CSK boast of a tremendous record at home this season, winning six of their seven games at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, and come Tuesday, it will act as a big advantage for the hosts.
A defeat, however, will leave both the teams with a second chance in Qualifier 2 on 10 May.
The CSK top-order has fired in fits and starts in the league phase and will need to come out all guns blazing against a formidable MI bowling attack that includes Jasprit Bumrah (17 wickets), Lasith Malinga (15 wickets), the Pandya brothers (Hardik 14 wickets and Krunal 10 wickets), leggie Rahul Chahar (10 wickets) and possibly Mitchell McClenaghan.
Skipper Dhoni (CSK's highest run-getter with 368 runs from 12 matches, three fifties) has been the mainstay of a rather inconsistent CSK batting unit and along with openers Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina holds the key in Saturday's game as the usually fluent Ambati Rayudu has struggled to get going.
CSK, however, will miss the services of the Kedar Jadhav, who sustained a freak shoulder injury in the match against Kings XI.
But Jadhav wasn't in the best of form and his absence could open up a spot for either Murali Vijay or Dhruv Shorey.
Bowling has been CSK's strong point so far this season and becomes even more potent on M A Chidambaram stadium's sluggish wicket.
Imran Tahir (21 scalps), the second-highest wicket-taker this season after Kagiso Rabada (25), has been at the forefront of an effective CSK spin trio, also including veteran Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja (both with 13 wickets each).
And the success of Tahir and Co against the powerful MI batting line-up could very well determine the course of the match.
MI captain Rohit Sharma (386 runs), the impressive Quinton De Kock (492, third leading run-scorer), Hardik Pandya (380) and Kieron Pollard will be hard to stop once they get going and CSK's bowlers have a tough task at hand.
The onus would also be on the ever-improving Deepak Chahar, who has taken 16 scalps so far, to pick up early wickets for CSK and stifle the rival batting line-up.
Going by the head-to-head record this year, MI holds the upper hand, having won both its encounters against CSK in the preliminary phase.
MI head coach Mahela Jayawardene would be aware of the job at hand and won't take CSK lightly despite the Lions' recent wobbly form.
CSK will certainly receive a boost by playing the Qualifier 1 at home with the crowd fully backing the team in what promises to be a cracker of a contest.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav, Beuran Hendricks and Lasith Malinga.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan, Scott Kuggeleijn.
The match will start at 8 pm and will be shown live on TV by Star Sports Network. The match can also be streamed live on Hotstar.