|Rohit has to continue performing with the bat for the Mumbai Indians|
After playing two back-to-back away games, Mumbai Indians (MI) will return to their fortress, the Wankhede Stadium, to take on the mercurial Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) later today.
The Indians’ only victory of the campaign came against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), which was a closely contested battle at the Chinnaswamy Stadium where the visitors that day did well to pile on an impressive 209 on the board and followed it up with a decent bowling effort to restrict the Challengers to 191, going on to win the game by 18 runs.
Mumbai have been overwhelmed in each of their other 5 games, as they just haven’t been able to deliver with either the bat, ball or on the field.
However, having said that, the likes of Harbhajan Singh, skipper Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard have come good on occasions during this campaign and will hope to contribute to the team’s cause once again against the Sunrisers.
More than the individual performances, from MI’s perspective: the question is whether everyone in that playing XI can contribute in some way or another, starting today against SRH? Read on… as we try to discern what the 1-time IPL winners need to do in order to get their second win of the campaign.
The foremost concern for the Indians going into today’s game will be the nature of the playing surface at the Wankhede: benign, good for batting and not really bowler-friendly. Though MI’s batting has flattered to deceive, except for one game against RCB, it is their bowling that has let them down more than their batting.
Sunrisers do not possess too many hard-hitting batsmen in their arsenal, except for the duo of Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner. However, both these men are in very good form, scored half-centuries in their side’s last game against the Kolkata Knight Riders and will be licking their lips ahead of the clash against Mumbai.
Considering the palpable weaknesses in the bowling department and that this is a 4.00 PM start, Rohit should have no hesitation in batting first, if he wins the toss.
I thought that it was a mistake on the MI skipper’s part to decide to bowl first against the Delhi Daredevils (DD), who piled on 190 on the board and took the game away from Mumbai. Therefore, toss, from MI’s perspective, will be critical to their chances of winning this game.
Ricky Ponting and company ought to get their team combination totally spot on. Ambati Rayudu hasn’t done much while batting in that No.6 and No.7 positions, and I don’t think he can render much if he is persisted with at that position. Can he open? There are better options than him.
Rayudu, therefore, ideally should make way for a bowler, preferably Shreyas Gopal, who knows how to bat and is a good leg-spinner, too.
The other change I would make to the playing XI is that of Parthiv Patel. The wicket-keeper batsman has failed to harness his opportunity at the top of the order and, with a top score of 28 in 4 games, deserves to make way for Aditya Tare, who can be a dangerous middle-order batsman.
There should be no messing about with Lendl Simmons’ place at the top of the order, but, who should partner him?
Unmukt Chand has looked good during his last two outings against RCB and DD, and it would be a no brainer to get him to open the innings, making space for Rohit Sharma, who is arguably the team’s best batsman, at No.3. That top 3, hopefully, should augur well for the Indians.
MI shouldn’t be flustered by who bats at No.4, as it will all depend on how the top three perform. Rohit’s best position is at No.3, as he can then play the anchor role for the team and have other batsmen play around him.
If all goes well, Pollard should walk in at No.4, a position that might even give him some time to settle in before going for extravagant strokes. The Caribbean dasher will obviously be followed by Hardik Pandya who, with his cameo innings of 16 from 4 balls against the Royal Challengers, showed that he can render quick runs with the bat and should, in all possibility, go in at No.5
Tare at No.6 will be a good option for the stuttering Mumbai Indians, who need their batsmen to deliver the goods while the bowling remains a major worry.
The addition of Gopal will add more potency to the MI bowling attack, as the Karnataka leg-spinner will be a good foil for Harbhajan, who has toiled away as the solitary spinner in the side for much of this campaign.
The addition of another spinner to the bowling attack will also mean that Lasith Malinga, who has taken 6 wickets in 6 games so far this campaign, need not necessarily be brought on during the middle stages of the opposition’s innings.
Jasprit Bumrah will look to comeback strongly after his no-show against the Daredevils on Thursday, when he bowled a lot of short-pitched deliveries that were dealt with severely by JP Duminy and Shreyas Iyer.
Mitchell McClenaghan needs to get more consistent and not be satisfied with just bowling well in patches.
The aforementioned blueprint should be the way to go for the two-time CLT20 winners, who cannot afford to lose today’s game that could all but end their chances of making it to the playoffs.
The bowling remains ‘the’ biggest worry as far as MI are concerned, and today’s result might just hinge on their bowling performance because of the nature of the wicket at the Wankhede Stadium.