After tasting success in Jaipur and Ranchi, the Champions League T20 bandwagon moves to the western part of the country. The Sardar Patel stadium in Ahmedabad is set to host its first ever CLT20 match.
The tie is expected to be a cracker of a match with the Kiwi champions Otago Volts locking horns with the IPL Champions Mumbai Indians. Though the venue is a neutral one, Mumbai Indians is expected to have majority of the crowd support.
The Mumbai Indians, however, will keep a close tab at the weather as well. Once again, the meteorological department has predicted scattered thunderstorms for the evening. In case of a rain, both the teams will have to share points and it will become difficult for the Mumbai franchise to qualify for the next round of the tournament.
With the wicket expected to batsman friendly, both the teams will look to outclass each other and fetch the two points on offer. So on a whole, a mouth watering clash is at stake for the cricket aficionados.
Possible Playing XI: Neil Broom, Hamish Rutherford, Brendon McCullam (Captain), Ryan Ten Doeschate, Nathan McCullam, Jimmy Neesham, Derek de Boorder (WK), Neil Beard, Ian Butler, Neil Wagner, James McMillan.
All the New Zealand sides that took part in the previous editions of the tournament had failed to impress the audience. However, on current form, the present Otago Volts side is on the verge of proving the above statement wrong. Coming into the tournament as underdogs, Volts, led by the explosive batsman Brendon McCullam, is on a 13 match winning streak including three wins out of three in the CLT20 qualifiers that took place before the beginning of the main tournament.
Otago also finished the qualifying round as the toppers to qualify for the main tournament. They defeated Faisalabad Wolves, Kandurata Maroons and the home favourites Sunrisers Hyderabad convincingly on the course to the main event. They pose a major threat to the other teams that compete in the tournament.
Their batting looks threatening to the opposition bowlers. In Neil Broom and Rutherford, they have a pair of explosive openers who has the ability to go after the bowling from the word go. Rutherford, in particular, sets the tone for the latter part of Volts innings. Then the world’s best T20 batsman Brendon McCullam enters to the middle after the fall of first wicket. He is in red hot form and has single-handedly destroyed the oppositions in the qualifiers.
The middle order looks solid with the likes of young left-hander Jimmy Neesham, Dutchman Ten Doeschate, de Boorder and Brendon McCullam’s brother Nathan McCullam. Neesham is an explosive middle order batsman who scored a century in a practice game against a Mohali side.
Ten Doeschate is a veteran in this format and has played in almost all parts of the world. Their glove-man de Boorder and younger McCullam brother are capable of using the long handle as well and scoring some quick runs towards the end.
Their bowling heavily relies on the retired Kiwi pacer Ian Butler. He is ably supported by young Neil Wagner, James McMillan and Ryan Ten Doeschate. In the spin department, Nathan McCullam takes the entire responsibilities.
As they did in their previous matches, the Volts will look to chase the total set by the Mumbai Indians.
Possible Playing XI: Dwayne Smith, Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Rohit Sharma (Captain), Ambati Rayudu, Keiron Pollard, Rishi Dhawan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Johnson, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha.
Unlike the Volts, Mumbai Indians are in a do or die position after their 7 wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur on Saturday. If Mumbai fail to win the match against Volts, their chance of progressing to the next round becomes dim.
Mumbai weren’t at their best in the match against Royals and their batsmen struggled against the new ball and failed to keep the scorecard ticking on a juicy wicket. Their bowling too looked out of sorts with the absence of their spearhead Lasith Malinga hurting their cause. His replacement Nathan Coulter-Nile showed some promise with the new ball but that was not enough for the Mumbai outfit to stop the Royals’ juggernaut.
At the end of the day, Mumbai were beaten fair and square by their fellow IPL competitors Rajasthan Royals.
The Rohit Sharma led side will look to avoid the mistakes they committed against the Royals and Mumbai will expect their star batsman Sachin Tendulkar to get among the runs. He had shown some glimpse of his marauding form against Royals before getting out to Vikramjeet Malik. Dwayne Smith will also be expected to get his side off to a flier in the initial overs.
Their middle order failed to steady the ship after the fall of openers. Dinesh Karthik got out to some poor shot selection and Ambati Rayudu ran himself out after a small misunderstanding with his skipper Sharma. Rohit Sharma and Keiron Pollard scored brisk forties as Mumbai reached 142.
Their bowlers too disappointed as Sanju Samson held one end up and carried his team home.
Mumbai Indians has the history of bouncing back after suffering defeats to their rivals and they will look to do it once again. As far as their lineup is concerned, they are expected to go in with the same XI that lost to Rajasthan Royals on Saturday. There are slight possibilities of Dwayne Smith making way for million dollar man Glenn Maxwell as the men from Mumbai look to bolster their spin department. If it happens, it will be interesting to see his batting position. He may be asked to play in the middle order promoting his skipper to open the innings.
All eyes will be on Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha, who failed to make an impact in their first match. Mumbai too will look to chase on a track that suits the batsman.
With the rain expected to play spoilsport at the Motera, will Mumbai Indians stop the unbeaten run of the Otago Volts and keep their hopes alive in the tournament? Or will the same script takes place once again and put Mumbai on the verge of an early exit?