Are the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings on course for another IPL final?

The Mumbai Indians became the most successful side in the history of the Indian Premier League by winning their fourth crown in the 2019 campaign. Their triumph broke the tie with the Chennai Super Kings, defeating their rivals in the final by a single run. Lasith Malinga delivered the victory for the Indians, bowling a precise final over to deny the Super Kings.

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Chennai only needed two runs from the final ball to lift the crown themselves for a record fourth time. However, the Sri Lankan produced a fine delivery to dismiss Shardul Thakur, sending Mumbai into raptures on the field.

The IPL will be played in the United Arab Emirates this year, which will bring a different atmosphere to the tournament. However, both the Indians and the Super Kings should be in contention once again for the crown, although they could be without some of their overseas stars for portions of the competition.

We’ll now look at their hopes of returning to the final, and the Indians’ hopes of retaining the title in 2020.

Mumbai Indians

The Indians needed all of their experience to win the IPL for the fourth time, last year. Malinga had gone for 20 in his third over, but held his composure when it mattered the most. It allowed Rohit Sharma to lift the crown yet again under his leadership, and Mumbai are leading contenders with the top bookmakers in India.

The value for bettors is not great, considering the Indians’ dominance of the IPL of late, which is why many have been using welcome bonuses to provide that value and cover their choices. 

It should be noted that there’s a lot to like about the Indians’ squad. Sharma is one of the best T20 players in the world and has been an excellent leader on the field – which has perhaps been ignored at international level. Sharma could open alongside Chris Lynn, who was allowed to leave Kolkata Knight Riders.

The Aussie scored 405 runs in 2019, notching four fifties in the process. Add his talent alongside Quinton de Kock and all-rounders Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya and the batting ranks are looking very good indeed, with Suryakumar Yadav also in the team. 

The bowling unit is equally as strong, with two of the best T20 specialists in the world leading the attack. Jasprit Bumrah and Malinga are impossible to strike out of the ground and are wicket-taking machines in the shortest format.

Trent Boult bolsters the attack following his trade. At the age of 31, he has the guile and the left-arm that teams crave in the early overs. Aussies James Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile offer depth but are not considered good enough to get into the Australia T20

squad. They only lack a top-quality spinner, although Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar were solid enough in their roles last term. The omens look good for Mumbai to clinch a fifth crown.

Chennai Super Kings

The Super Kings came within two runs of victory in the IPL final last term. Shane Watson scored a brilliant 80, but he could not take his team over the line in the final over. It was a crushing way to lose, but MS Dhoni and company should be back in the mix in 2020.

There could be issues after Suresh Raina and Harbhajan Singh pulled out of the line-up. It does leave the Super Kings a tad short of experience in their squad, although there is hope that Raina will return. 

Despite those losses, Chennai boast a formidable line-up, and once again Watson will lead the way at the top of the innings. The 39-year-old has lost none of his vigour in his advancing years and will be determined to go one further this time around. Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu and Murali Vijay will have to play a more prominent role if Raina does not return. Ruturaj Gaikwad is an unknown quantity in the IPL, but he does have a great deal of potential and could be a diamond in the rough. 

Chennai’s strength lies in the bowling attack. Even without Harbhajan, they can throw Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla and last season’s Purple Cap winner Imran Tahir into their line-up as spin options. Dwayne Bravo, Lungi Ngidi and Deepak Chahar cover the fast-bowling options, although Josh Hazlewood and Sam Curran also in the reckoning.

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Curran’s all-round ability and impressive debut campaign should see him continue to thrive in the competition, despite his absence from England’s T20 side. Chennai should there and thereabouts in 2020 to make a charge at equalling the Indians’ record title haul.

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