Mumbai Indians clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the team to beat in this edition of the IPL. Both teams come into the game with wins in their previous game but Mumbai had lost their first game of the tournament, unlike the Hyderabad franchise which is unbeaten in its two games thus far.
Batting has been a key feature for both these sides. While Sunrisers boast of some real power hitters in their line-up, Mumbai themselves aren't short on batting firepower. Jos Buttler opening the innings has added a different dimension to their powerplay batting while David Warner is a threat for Hyderabad at the top.
The outrageous Yuvraj Singh in the tournament opener and the consistent Moises Henriques add huge value to their arsenal. Ben Cutting and Deepak Hooda are there for the back end slog while Naman Ojha is their security batsman if the top order fails.
Mumbai, on the other hand, have Rohit Sharma, who is yet to click in the tournament coming behind Parthiv Patel, Jos Buttler and the new no.3, Nitish Rana. The top order looks settled and itching to fire although they are yet to do so in unison. Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers complete a powerful lower order. Harbhajan Singh can also wield the long handle.
In the bowling front, there is no team to match the Sunrisers Hyderabad. They boast of some of the best in the business in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan. Ashish Nehra, Ben Cutting and Moises Henriques complete their bowling attack.
Mumbai, meanwhile, have Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah, two yorker specialists who make death batting a nightmare for the opposition. Krunal Pandya and Hardik Pandya can chip in with their variations in the middle overs while Harbhajan's job is to check the scoring rate. Pollard showed that he may not be the right man to go to in crisis situations. Mumbai also have Mitchell McCleneghan, a wicket taking option upfront.
Here we take a look at four player battles to watch out for in this keenly awaited encounter at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
#4 Lasith Malinga vs David Warner
David Warner brushed aside his poor form with an unbeaten 76 in the game against Gujarat Lions in Hyderabad a few days ago. The Australian opener will be a key wicket for Mumbai in a usually high-scoring venue. If Warner stays beyond the powerplay, Mumbai will know that they are in danger.
This makes Lasith Malinga's opening spell to the southpaw important. The Sri Lankan entered the IPL on the back of a hat-trick against Bangladesh in a T20 last week. He got his yorkers on target in the last game against Kolkata and is slowly returning to his best.
However, in Warner, he has a strong T20 player with his confidence swelled after a fifty in the last game. Warner's outrageous run in IPL 2016 will be in the back of the minds of every opposition. If Malinga can get Warner early, half the battle is won. The Sunrisers middle-order does not boast of consistent scores and the early wicket of Warner can add a lot of pressure.
#3 Rashid Khan vs Jos Buttler
The young Afghanistan leg-spinner has taken the IPL by storm with his variations, dip, flight and that unreadable googly. He destroyed the Gujarat Lions top order with three key wickets, of their famed foreign batsmen, bowling in the powerplay. Against Mumbai, his task might be similar. In Jos Buttler, Mumbai have a power hitter at the top, capable of swinging the bat against the brand new ball.
However, Rashid provides a different challenge altogether. With the new ball, the leggie can get more bounce and his googly is still deadly. Buttler isn't a good player of leg spin as he revealed in the Tests and ODIs against India a few months back.
The hard-hitting wicket-keeper batsman might find it difficult to time the ball early on with a shrewd leg-spinner bowling at him. If Sunrisers decide to continue their ploy of bowling Rashid Khan in the powerplay, it will be interesting to see how he goes against the England keeper.
#2 Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Rohit Sharma
Mumbai Indians’ strongest department is undoubtedly their talented Indian middle order and Rohit Sharma is a key figure there. Having opened the innings in the previous two editions, Rohit has switched to the middle-order to allow Buttler a go at the top.
However, Rohit has never been a good player of swing which makes his battle with Bhuvneshwar Kumar a crucial one. One of the best swing bowlers in the country, Bhuvneshwar is capable of moving the ball either way. In Wankhede, where the ball does move about early on, he will be the weapon that Sunrisers use against Rohit Sharma.
A beast in his home ground, Rohit will be looking to anchor the Mumbai innings in their key battle against the table toppers. His no-show in the first two games will also be on his mind and with the Rashid threat looming in the powerplay against Buttler, a promotion back to the opening slot cannot be ruled out.
#1 Jasprit Bumrah vs Yuvraj Singh
Yuvraj Singh slammed a half-century for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the tournament opener against RCB and looked like the player that won India the 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 ODI World Cup. A dangerous hitter, the middle-order batsman is tasked with taking Sunrisers to a big total with his lower order hitting.
Jasprit Bumrah, meanwhile, is one of the best exponents of the yorker in world cricket today alongside Lasith Malinga, his Mumbai teammate. Bumrah's job will be to contain the Yuvi show. If his yorkers miss the blockhole, he can rest assured that Yuvraj will take him on.
On the other hand, Yuvraj does struggle against yorker specialists and slower ball masters. Bumrah has time and again unleashed a deadly slower bouncer along with his accurate yorkers and this makes for an enticing battle when the two face off. Much of Sunrisers’ success will hinge on which way this battle sways.