With their six-game winning streak ended by Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), Mumbai Indians will be hungry to recapture their momentum when they take on Gujarat Lions away from home on Saturday night. As the action heats up, Rohit Sharma’s side can take another massive step towards the knockout stages if they manage to seal their seventh victory of this IPL season.
However, the task facing them will not be easy as the Lions are coming off a convincing triumph against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). They now seem like a much more refined unit after making a few changes in their team combination. Having signed up veteran all-rounder Irfan Pathan as Dwayne Bravo’s replacement, their squad contains quite a few experienced options to choose from. A defeat here will cause a massive dent in their play-off aspirations.
The SCA Stadium has rolled out some of the most batting-friendly surfaces in this IPL edition. Another pitch facilitating a reasonably high-scoring game is expected as two formidable batting line-ups go head to head.
Date: April 29th
Venue: Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot
Time: 20:00 IST
If Gujarat Lions bat first
Predicted Score: 180+
Gujarat’s opening combination is a nice blend of youth and experience. While 18-year-old Ishan Kishan provides energy to the proceedings, the enigmatic Brendon McCullum continues to do what he does best – tear bowling attacks apart with his belligerence.
As always, the focus will be on Suresh Raina who has scored more than 300 runs in the season so far at an average in excess of 60. The presence of all-round cricketers such as Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik and James Faulkner has enabled Aaron Finch to play his natural attacking game. If he gets going, Mumbai’s bowlers will find themselves under immense pressure.
With the likes of Mitchell McClenaghan, Mitchell Johnson and Jasprit Bumrah in the mix, the visitors possess enough firepower to pick up wickets on a regular basis even on flat tracks. Despite picking up a couple of wickets, leg-spinner Karn Sharma was expensive in the previous game and should make way for Krunal Pandya if the latter regains fitness. The seasoned campaigner in Harbhajan Singh should provide skipper Rohit with four reasonably quiet overs in the middle phase.
If Mumbai Indians bat first
Predicted Score: 170+
Having emerged victorious in five of their six games while chasing, it won’t come across as a surprise if Mumbai decide to bowl first should they win the toss. However, if Gujarat win the toss and insert the visitors on a placid pitch, they may struggle to identify what sort of score remains an adequate one.
Nevertheless, Mumbai’s batting lineup boasts of quite a few players who can take the game away from the opposition rather quickly. The onus will be on the opening duo of Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler to offer a solid start to the innings. If they manage to do that, the middle-order containing the likes of Nitish Rana and Rohit can express themselves without having anything to worry about. Along with the Pandya brothers, Kieron Pollard has the ability to swell the total in the end overs.
But, Gujarat’s rejigged bowling attack should make for a tricky proposition. Their collective potential was quite evident when they bundled out RCB for 134 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Andrew Tye has picked up as many as 12 wickets from just 5 matches while Ravindra Jadeja is also slowly finding his rhythm. The domestic seam contingent of Nathu Singh and Basil Thampi are more than handy options even as Faulkner adds variety to the team combination.