Jolted by the loss to Rajasthan Royals (RR) in their opening match before the second tie was washed out, Indian Premier League (IPL) winners Mumbai Indians (MI) would be eager to stamp their authority in a do-or-die battle against Highveld Lions in their Group A game of the Champions League Twenty20 2013 at Jaipur on Friday.
Like Mumbai, the Lions have also lost one match while another got abandoned. Both the teams have just two points from as many outings and in order to keep their chances alive in the tournament, would need to win tomorrow’s game.
The star-studded Mumbai outfit could not have hoped for a worse start. They looked a bit rusty while facing the Royals and since then they had little chance to iron out their flaws.
Veteran Sachin Tendulkar, playing his last tournament for the Mumbai Indians, showed some spark with a 15-run cameo against the Royals, which included three fours.
But come Friday, Mumbai would need more than that from the star batsman.
Skipper Rohit Sharma continued to show good form while Kieron Pollard was also impressive with a 36-ball 47 down the order. Besides these two, the likes of Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Kartik and Ambati Rayudu have the ability to give any opponent a run for its money.
Mumbai’s bowling department, in the absence of match-winning pacer Lasith Malinga, failed to take off against Rajasthan.
Pacer Mitchell Johnson, who is expected to fill Malinga’s role, went wicketless, while Nathan Coulter-Nile also could not make any impression. India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh looked off-colour, too.
But if the bowlers are able to fire in unison they could easily prove to be more than a handful for the Lions who were seen struggling against leg-spinner Pravin Tambe, whose brilliant four for 15 paved the way for Rajasthan’s victory last night.
And favourites Mumbai have the resources to get the better of the lowly Lions but they would certainly need to regroup themselves.
The Lions, on the other hand, are under pressure as they face Mumbai with their backs to the wall. They looked pretty inept against the Royals and would need to pull up their socks to pose any challenge to the formidable Mumbai Indians.
But if Pakistani seamer Sohail Tanvir is to be believed, the Lions’ batsmen are better equipped as compared to Mumbai on the hard and bouncy pitch at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
“Our batsmen are used to playing on hard and bouncy wickets, which offer movement. I feel we would be better equipped on this surface,” Tanvir said last night after his team’s loss to Rajasthan Royals.
The onus, however, is on the bowlers to call the shots.
Their bowling has the teeth with Lonwado Tsotsobe, Sohail Tanvir and Imran Tahir.
This match, which was earlier scheduled to take place in Ahmedabad, was shifted to the Pink City because of torrential rain in Gujarat. But with clouds hovering over Jaipur sky as well and the met department forecasting showers, both the teams as well as the fans would be praying.