With 5 out of 6 wins, MI are sitting really pretty at the top seem to be well on course to book a SF berth ASAP. They will hope to take another step forward tonight when the face Kings XI Punjab, the bottom dwellers who seemingly cannot seem to find their way out of a torn plastic bag, much less the bottom of the table. Sachin is leading the way for MI, while KXP’s regular captain, Sangakkara , is not even in the XI today , thanks to a suspension. Which way will the ball roll?
Lee has added some bite to the bowling, but it looks like he has spent more time in some water purifier ad than in the nets along with his KXP brethren. Piyush Chawla seems ok, but hasn’t really made the kind of impact expected out of him, especially when compared to Mishra, Ohja, Karthik etc. The Fat One rolls in and out of the team. Irfan Pathan seems jaded. Abdulla is forgotten in the sidelines. The other local lads haven’t exactly set the world on fire. Srivastava and Malik play 1 game well, and then shock in the next one. It looks like delivering a string of complete bowling performances seems to be too much to ask out of this bunch. Can it get worse? Yep, wait till you read the batting bit.
Theron might come in, but I’m really not sure if they’ll replace Bopara when the batting has been so bad.
The team seems to be on a roll. Bhajji proved upto the challenge in the last game, bowling with the new ball and taking out Gilly. Zaks was expensive in his first spell, but made up for it in the 2nd. Malinga has had enough for warming up, and now is beginning to show how tough it is to play under-arm yorkers coming in at 140Km/h. The fielding has been great, helping out the bowlers really well. It seems like Mumbai cannot put a foot wrong.
Let’s see, you have Jayawardene, Sanga, Yuvi, Bopara in the same squad , and still you wet the bed time and again on prime-time?! Save Bopara, all the others have been in dismal form, and it might actually be a blessing in disguise that Sangakkara is sitting out for this one game. Perhaps a new batsman will come in and light a fire up their collective buttocks. Yuvraj hasn’t gotten a big score yet, and with rumours of extensive partying, is dangerously expanding his physical horizons. Moody needs to get Marsh in, and this game could be the ideal one. On a side note, I was shocked with how Sanga and Jayawardene approach the chase against KKR in the last game! It was the single most boring 5-over phase EVER in a T20 format.
Marsh in for Sanga.
With supreme consistency and steady run-making, Sachin sits right behind Kallis in the top run-getters list right now. Shikar Dhawan , aka The Hunter, seems to get good starts but fizzles out. What’s a little more cause for worry is that their trio of youngsters in the middle order have had a slump. Rayudu will get a little more slack, but Tiwary and Satish need to start bucking up and play their roles again. It is safe to say that Pollard has been a little bit of a disappointment so far, but it might still make sense to push him up the order and see what he is really capable of. MI need him in top gear for the 2nd half of the season , when teams will be extra hungry to catch them on the sly. Bhajji has announced himself to the world as a force to reckon with as an all-rounder. Sarcasm off now. But to his credit, he is definitely one of the much better tail-enders out there.
Tiwary might sit out for Nayar, but unlikely.
KXP Bowling vs MI Batting: Advantage MI
KXP need to hope that Lee continues his relatively good run against Sachin and dish him out. I would have Powar play this game , and his wily spin can be quite useful against the relatively inexperienced MI middle order. Open with Lee and Chawla, and let Powar do the restrictive role in the middle orders. They also must plan for Bhajji. Feeding him dollies in the middle and leg is asking for pain.
MI needs Dhawan to take the pressure off Sachin, who needs to be a little more watchful against Lee. Dhawan needs to understand that, and get the momentum going, so that Sachin can take the necessary precautions against KXP’s best bowler and then trash around the rest. It might make sense to push Pollard up the order and allow him to a longer stay, which the big man seems to need. After a few good games, Tiwary seems to be struggling a little bit against spin to start his innings, and perhaps pushing him down the order might help. Let Bravo , Pollard and Rayudu handle the spinners.
KXP Batting vs MI Bowling: Advantage MI
KXP’s batting has been stinking up the joint in quite a few games already, and the team management has a lot to think about. Bopara and Bisla had given them a couple of starts earlier in the season, and it might make most sense to get back to that , and hope it works. What would be even better is to bring Marsh in and hope that he clicks. Bopara and Marsh might be the best bet for handling the pace and guile of Malinga and Zaheer. Yuvi needs to get back to the middle order , and along with Jaywardene, they have to handle Bhajji and the other slower bowlers. They are the most equipped for that.
MI must capitalize on their momentum, and make KXP pay big, psychologically. If they can save Malinga for the KXP middle order, they’d have done really well. I sense that Yuvi and Jayawardene will struggle against Mallinga and Bhajji in the form they are in.
Both the teams continue their streaks! 🙂