MI eye win against SRH as CSK, KXIP look to end skid - GulfToday

MI eye win against SRH as CSK, KXIP look to end skid


Kings XI Punjab’s captain KL Rahul talks to MI’s Hardik Pandya as Anil Kumble looks on during a training session ahead of their Sunday match. Courtesy: Twitter

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

A buoyant Mumbai Indians (MI) will look to keep their winning momentum going against a confident Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the second match of Sunday’s double-header to be played in Sharjah.

Both the teams look in a good place with two wins from their four games. Mumbai bounced back against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) after losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their previous match and their batsmen are in exhilarating form.

Kieron Pollard, who is in great nick, played two exceptional innings in the last two matches. The West Indian batsman, along with Hardik Pandya, took a whopping 68 runs off the final four overs to take the match beyond Kings XI Punjab’s reach after Mumbai were struggling at 122/4 off 16 overs.

Pollard also smacked a 24-ball 60, scoring 89 runs in the last five overs along with Ishan Kishan, who also smashed 99 off 58 balls as the duo took the match into the Super Over against RCB.

Apart from Pollard, captain Rohit Sharma himself is in fine fettle and leading from the front. Rohit has amassed 170 runs in four innings with two fifties at an average of 42.5.

Besides, MI have a good bowling attack comprising pacers James Pattinson, Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah, and spinners Rahul Chahar, Washington Sundar and Krunal Pandya.

Meanwhile, Hyderabad are brimming with confidence after winning two consecutive matches. They defeated Chennai by seven runs in their last match. But their main headache is the lack of depth in batting, with most of their batting revolving around captain David Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Kane Williamson.

Priyam Garg smashed a quick-fire 51 off 26 balls, which will be a big relief for Warner and will take the pressure off the big three. But their bowling is very impressive and can defend even small totals, what with the likes of Bhuvneshvar Kumar and Rashid Khan in their ranks.

Meanwhile, in Sunday’s first match, Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) both will look to get their beleaguered campaigns back on track with a much-needed win.

Both Punjab and Chennai have lost three of their four matches so far and are lying at the seventh and eighth spots respectively with two points each. Punjab have been unlucky, having lost two of their matches after coming agonisingly close to a win on both occasions. Rajasthan Royals chased down an improbable 223 to dent their confidence after a rampant Delhi Capitals defeated them in a Super Over in their first match.

Punjab’s strength has been their batting. Mayank Agarwal and captain Lokesh Rahul have been the mainstay of their batting line-up.

Agarwal and Rahul both are in stupendous form and have been at the top of the highest scorers’ chart, at first and second place respectively.

However, chinks in their middle-order were exposed against MI, when there was an abject surrender by their batsmen after the departure of Rahul and Agarwal, who had added 38 runs for the first wicket. Five of their batsmen managed to muster a combined total of only 69 runs, including 44 by Nicholas Puran. West Indian swashbuckling batsman Chris Gayle, who is yet to play a game, can make it to the playing XI in the next match to provide more stability to their batting, which depends heavily on their openers. Their other problem has been the death bowling. A good bowler to complement Mohammad Shami, who has taken eight wickets in four matches and tops the charts of leading wicket takers in the tournament, is badly needed.

While they conceded 68 runs in the final four overs against Mumbai, against Rajasthan Royals their bowlers gave away 86 runs in the final overs to end up on the losing side. Sheldon Cottrell has failed to live up to expectations as he was hit for five sixes in an over by Rajasthan’s Rahul Tewatia, which tilted the game in the Royals’ favour.  It is ironic that while Punjab’s players have individually excelled, the team are at the seventh spot in the standings.

Meanwhile, having tasted defeat in their last match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai will have to do some soul searching before it is too late.

Their captain MS Dhoni has been under fire for not leading from the front. He came to bat very late and promoted less experienced batsmen ahead of him against Rajasthan. Besides, he faced criticism for playing too slow against Delhi Capitals, which took the game beyond their reach. And he did the same thing again against Hyderabad.

Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja put up 72 runs for the fifth wicket but played too slow, which all but ended their hopes of a comeback. They did have a flamboyant all-rounder like Dwayne Bravo waiting for his turn in the dugout, which never came.  Besides the absence of Suresh Raina, which is hurting the team  badly, they also seem to be missing Harbhajan Singh in the bowling department.

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