Barring a miracle, Mumbai versus Hyderabad is a dead rubber

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safari
07 Oct 2021 | 12:37 PM
authorSomesh Agarwal

Barring a miracle, Mumbai versus Hyderabad is a dead rubber

Sunrisers can eliminate Mumbai simply by winning the toss and opting to bat first

In order to garner hopes of a playoff spot, Mumbai wanted Kolkata to lose. Or win by a narrow margin at best. But, after thumping Rajasthan, Kolkata have further improved their net run rate to +0.587. In comparison, Mumbai stand at -0.48. Now, there is no way Mumbai can overtake Kolkata by chasing a target. The only way out for them is to score 227 or more and win by a margin of 170+ runs, something achieved only five times before in the history of T20 cricket. So what Mumbai need is nothing short of a miracle. 

***

There was something in the air when Mumbai took the field against Rajasthan. Their rather invisible fielding coach, James Pamment, was spotted gesticulating his hands decorated with bulging biceps while delivering a fiery team talk during the team huddle. “We know where we stand at the moment. Every individual knows what they need to do. We have done enough talking, we have done the preparation, it's about coming here and executing,” said Rohit Sharma at the toss, as a matter of fact.

What followed took us back to the game between the sides six IPLs ago at yet another crucial juncture. If the virtual knockout between Mumbai and Rajasthan in 2015 was a run-fest, their game in somewhat similar circumstances this year was anything but. Mumbai pummelled Rajasthan with the bat then, their bowlers read the conditions like the back of their hands and throttled Rajasthan now.

Mumbai pacers bowled a total of 60 balls on a good length, way more than in any other game since landing in UAE this year. None of them was more metronomic than Nathan Coulter-Nile who delivered his best IPL spell and ensured Mumbai lived on to see another day.

Opening with Ishan Kishan and thus making space for James Neesham instead of a struggling Krunal Pandya provided the defending champs with a much-needed balance. What's more, Kishan was among the runs with 25-ball 50 even after playing out the second over without scoring a run. An emphatic win with 70 balls to spare breathed life to Mumbai’s campaign. Mumbai looked Mumbai again. But it can be all too late.

 Their opponents on the day have more than pride to play for. There are two teams in the playoffs who are eyeing their maiden IPL title. The third, Chennai, have lost the title to Mumbai on the last hurdle each time these sides have met on the last three occasions. No side will want a rampaging Mumbai as a contender from here on. Sunrisers will be playing for the blessings of those sides. And lastly, on an individual level, the lure of the upcoming mega auction which a lot of Hyderabad players are likely to be released into.

Hyderabad will be coming back after a confidence-boosting win against Bangalore that denied the Royal Challengers a stab at the top two spots. Rashid Khan has been the lone guiding light for Hyderabad in a dismal season this year. But despite his most expensive spell in the last two seasons, Hyderabad managed to topple a strong Bangalore outfit.

Jason Roy’s inclusion up top has worked to an extent. Though not at the same level as the heyday of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow. But that can be a factor of the questionable nature of these pitches rather than a portrayal of Roy’s actual abilities.

The uncapped Indian players that Hyderabad carried for the last couple of seasons have not reaped rewards. However, the young speedster from Jammu and Kashmir, starting his journey as a net bowler and then replacing T Natarajan has outpaced every other bowler this year.

In a must-win game for Mumbai, the young Indian speedster, Umran Malik, will be as much of a threat as the presence of the unhittable Afghan. “We were not playing well in terms of where we would have liked to, so you need those kinds of talks from someone like him. It was important for us to just get going. That actually got all the guys going.” Rohit did not fail to acknowledge the push given by that well-timed pump from Pamment earlier. Mumbai will turn to him once more to infuse some adrenaline into the team in the fight for survival. If they manage to get through somehow, the reputation they carry will spread their aura in the air by itself.

Probable XIs

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Jason Roy, Abhishek Sharma, Kane Williamson (C), Priyam Garg, Jason Holder, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Abdul Samad, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Umran Malik 

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Ishan Kishan (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Saurabh Tiwary, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, James Neesham, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult

Note: The preview has been updated after the result of Kolkata's game against Rajasthan

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