Mumbai Indians haven’t been the same since Hardik Pandya’s departure. Rohit Sharma and Co. have won only seven out of 20 encounters in the Indian Premier League since last season. They bagged a wooden spoon in IPL 2022 and are once again placed in the bottom half this season. In fact, MI have the worst win percentage (35%) since last year.
Their bowling was always going to be a concern, and on top of that, the star-studded batting line-up hasn’t been able to compensate for the shortcomings in the other department. They started this season with back-to-back defeats but gained some momentum with three consecutive wins. Just when things started falling in place, Mumbai lost to Punjab Kings.
On the other hand, Pandya’s Gujarat Titans have made winning a habit since their arrival. This team can chase down any total and defend a low score as we saw in their previous game against Lucknow Super Giants. It was MI who made 'Hardik Pandya' and the ace all-rounder would be eager to put on a show in front of his former franchise.
Mind you, Mumbai are the only side GT have not defeated yet in the IPL. And, that defeat remains the only game they haven’t won while chasing. Mumbai are the 1 in that 11-1.
Things to watch out for
Middle overs remain a concern for GT
The Titans are in a comfortable position but they would want to improve their numbers in the middle phase, not just with the bat, but also with the ball. Gujarat have lost the least number of wickets in overs 7-15 but have the worst scoring rate (7.4) amongst all teams in this phase.
Shubman Gill has an SR of 133 in this phase but the likes of Vijay Shankar (110), Pandya (110), David Miller (108) and Wriddhiman Saha (100) have all struggled to score freely in the middle overs. The Titans have scored at a run rate of 7 or less in three matches this season, which is the joint-worst for a team along with Punjab Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Even in the bowling department, GT have taken the least number of wickets in the middle overs. Their average of 34.2 and a strike rate of 24.9 are the third-worst and second-worst, respectively, amongst all teams in this phase. Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad have decent numbers and the onus would be on these two to keep Suryakumar Yadav and Co. in check.
Mohit’s inclusion working well for Gujarat
After Yash Dayal was taken to the cleaners by Rinku Singh, Gujarat gave Mohit Sharma an opportunity and the 34-year-old seamer grabbed that opportunity with both hands. 2/18 (4 overs), 0/7 (2 overs) and 2/17 (3 overs) - Mohit is yet to concede over six runs per over in a single game. Against LSG, the right-armer comfortably defended 12 runs in the final over. So far, he has operated at an ER of 3.8 in the middle overs and 5.3 at the death, and used cutters with great perfection.
Archer needs to deliver
After a couple of rough outings, the MI batting line-up has finally started to deliver. Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan have been aggressive in the powerplay, while Cameron Green now has consecutive fifties. Tilak Varma is their leading run-scorer and Tim David has also smoked a couple of cameos down the order. Moreover, Suryakumar Yadav is also back in touch, but they have struggled in the bowling department big time.
Piyush Chawla has been superb, while Kumar Kartikeya has featured in only one game for some reason despite doing well. Apart from Chawla (6.9), not a single MI bowler has an economy of less than 9 (minimum of two overs). Jofra Archer, who missed four straight games, made his return against Punjab but ended up leaking 42 runs.
He has gone for runs in both the games he has played so far and Mumbai would hope that he returns back to his best as soon as possible. After all, the MI bowling unit has the second-worst economy rate (9.5) this season and Archer could prove to be the only saving grace in the pace department, going by his numbers from the past.
The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad has been a high-scoring venue. The batters here have hit runs at an average of 30.5 and a scoring rate of 9.5, while a wicket has fallen every 19.2 deliveries. In the bowling department, spinners (average 26.5, SR 17.7 and ER 9) have had better numbers than seamers (average 35.4, SR 22.3 and ER 9.5).
What’s more, the side batting second has won all three games here this season. Targets of 179, 205 and 178 have all been chased down.
Mumbai have two batters - Ishan Kishan and Tim David - who have a pretty good record against Rashid in this format. The ace legspinner is yet to dismiss these two in T20s. While Kishan has scored 74 off 56 deliveries against Rashid, David has slammed 54 off 37. Kishan has faced the second-most number of deliveries without getting out to Rashid in the IPL, while David has got the fifth-most runs against him.
Chawla has been MI’s best bowler this season. The 34-year-old has claimed nine wickets at a strike rate of 15.3. The leg-spinner has also bowled four overs in the powerplay but that can backfire against Saha. The wicketkeeper-batter has a strike rate of 164 against Chawla, the fourth-highest in the IPL (75-plus runs).
Bat first - Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shubman Gill, Vijay Shankar/Sai Sudharsan, Hardik Pandya (c), David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph/Noor Ahmad, Mohit Sharma.
Bowl first - Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya (c), David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Jayant Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Alzarri Joseph/Noor Ahmad, Mohit Sharma.
Bat first - Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav, Tim David, Tilak Varma, Nehal Wadhera, Arjun Tendulkar, Hrithik Shokeen, Jofra Archer, Piyush Chawla.
Bowl first - Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Tim David, Hrithik Shokeen, Arjun Tendulkar, Jofra Archer, Piyush Chawla, Jason Behrendorff/Riley Meredith.