Mumbai start favourites in clash against Chargers
Mumbai: Mumbai Indians would look to excel in home conditions and confirm a play-offs berth by getting the better of bottom-placed Deccan Chargers in an Indian Premier League clash on Saturday.
After the humiliating 76-run defeat to Kings XI Punjab at Mohali, Sachin Tendulkar-led MI would be eager to get their act together and return to winning ways.
It was a reminder of how fickle the T20 format could be for the star-studded Mumbai, who were shot out for a mere 87 in less than 13 overs chasing Punjab`s 163.
The strong MI batting line up, led by Tendulkar, surprisingly came a cropper against Praveen Kumar`s swing and unheralded Bhargav Bhatt`s left-arm spin.
MI have 16 points, the same as Chennai Super Kings but the better net run-rate has pushed the defending champions to the top spot after the victory over Delhi Daredevils.
However, Mumbai have one more match in hand and if they win their last three games, including two at home, they would finish on top of the heap.
The return to the Wankhede track, offering bounce, would be welcomed by the free-stroking Mumbai batting line-up from which only four reached double figures in the rout by Punjab.
It was for the second time this season that Mumbai could not manage to go past 100-run mark, which shows that their strong batting line-up can be brought to its knees.
But in home conditions they have excelled with Tendulkar himself leading the way.
The champion batsman has 371 runs under his belt from 11 games this season and, after holding the Orange Cap, is now fifth in the run-getters` list.
Ambati Rayudu (362 runs) and Rohit Sharma (287) have been very impressive with the bat and ideal foils to Tendulkar, but the overseas players ? including big hitters Kieron Pollard (78 runs from 11 games) and Andrew Symonds (127 from 9) - have been huge let-downs.
In some of the matches, the two big-hitters have not had the opportunity to deliver the goods but in the games they had the chance to play longer, they did not perform to potential which would worry the MI think tank ahead of the play-offs. Tendulkar also lacks an effective opening partner unlike the previous seasons. Davy Jacobs, who looked to be settling down, picked up a finger injury and his replacement Aiden Blizzard too has not been firing consistently.
The bowling has been spot-on for the most part with Lasith Malinga, with a superb haul of 26 wickets and an economy rate under six, being the kingpin. Malinga has been well supported by Munaf Patel, who picked up a five-wicket haul against Punjab and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (12).
These three bowlers have delivered whenever needed and it has made up for the largely unimpressive stints by Pollard (8 wickets in 11 games) and Symonds (1 in 9).
It has been in fielding that MI has excelled consistently with Pollard picking off some amazing catches in the outfield which, to a large extent, has taken the focus off his poor batting form.
While MI have come up with consistent displays at home to hold a big advantage, the Chargers` batting has misfired terribly with only skipper Kumar Sangakkara (306 runs from 11 games) showing some consistency. While Bharat Chipli and Sunny Sohal impressed initially to go off the boil quickly, foreign recruits Jean Paul Duminy, Cameron White and Dan Christian have not showed yet they were worth the amount paid for at the auctions.
Against the likes of Malinga, whose toe-crushing Yorkers and unexpected bouncers have caught many a batsman unawares, Sangakkara needs to fire as he perhaps knows how best to play against his Sri Lankan compatriot.
The bowling has been the Chargers` strength this season with the speed duo of Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma scything through the opposing line-ups on a few occasions.
Amit Mishra (12 wickets similar to Steyn) has done his bit, but Pragyan Ojha and all rounder Dan Christian have been less than impressive.
In fielding too, the Chargers have been short of par, which also has affected their progress in the tournament. But with only six points from 11 games, they can put a spanner on Mumbai`s plans of finishing among the top two. Two days later the Chargers would be taking on another struggling outfit Pune Warriors at D Y Patil Stadium and a victory over favourites MI would be the ideal shot in the arm for that outing.
The Teams (from): Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (C), Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma, T Suman, Munaf Patel, Aiden Blizzard, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Andrew Symonds, Davy Jacobs, James Franklin, Dilhara Fernando, Ray Price, Abu Nechim Ahmed, Aditya Tare, Ali Murtaza, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pawan Suyal, R Satish, Sarul Kanwar, Suryakumar Yadav, Yuzvendra Singh Chahai.
Deccan Chargers: Kumar Sangakkara (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Bharat Chipli, Jean-Paul Duminy, Dan Christian, D Ravi Teja, Harmeet Singh, Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra, Sunny Sohal, Cameron White, Rusty Theron, Manpreet Ghony, Ishant Jaggi, Michael Lumb, Ankit Sharma, Anand Rajan, Akash Bhandari, Chris Lynn, Ishan Malhotra, Jaydev Shah, Arjun Yadav, Ashish Reddy.