The Mumbai Indians’ batting line-up may have crumbled in their first match against Rising Pune Supergiants, but they showed their batting prowess against Kolkata Knight Riders in the second match at Eden Gardens and how.
Skipper Rohit Sharma carried his bat with a classy 84 not out, coach Ricky Ponting’s master move Mitchell McClenaghan’s 8-ball 20 was destructive as was Jos Butler’s 41. And the trio reminded that the Mumbai Indians have a batting line-up to envy for, and more importantly, power-hitters.
But on Saturday, at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, they take a team that is some serious hitters. IPL newcomers Gujarat Lions have already registered themselves as title contenders with two wins in as many games.
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Look no further than their opening pair to know how destructive they can be — Orange-cap holder Aaron Finch and New Zealand talisman Brendon McCullum. Having failed to set the stage on fire for Australia in the World T20, Finch has been particularly impressive scoring back-to-back half centuries against Kings XI Punjab and Rising Pune Supergiants respectively.
Recently retired McCullum, who was dismissed for a duck in the first match, came back strongly, the second game with an attractive 49, announcing his form.
And if their opening pair fails to fire, they have Suresh Raina and Dwayne Bravo, who can be very dangerous on their day. Then there’s Dinesh Karthik who is capable of playing a cameo with his attractive stroke making.
Mumbai Indians will be boosted with the return of hard-hitting Martin Guptill as a replacement for the injured Lendl Simmons.
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Kieron Pollard hasn’t been in the best of form, getting out cheaply in both games, but was a busy man at the nets on Friday. After middling the ball against fast bowlers, he decided to practise against spin, but somehow didn’t seem too comfortable. A big innings from the West Indian is around the corner.
Mumbai made a very bold decision of promoting Hardik Pandya to No. 3 against KKR, and he will be looking to repay the management’s faith in him. They also have the old war horse Harbhajan Singh, who sure can turn a game around with his batting these days.
Sharma and his boys will look to make the most of their home support in the remaining three games at the Wankhede, including the match against Lions after the Bombay High Court ordered matches after April 30 to be moved out of Maharashtra because of a state-wide drought.
Mumbai will want to show that the win last game was no fluke and the Lions will look to continue their winning momentum.
And given the batting-friendly nature of the pitch, it’s bound to be a cracker of a game, a battle of power-hitters.