By Chandraboli Mitra
New Delhi: Oct 1, 2013
With virtually one semifinal spot up for grabs in Group A, IPL champions Mumbai Indians will fancy their chances when they take on the bottom-placed Perth Scorchers in a do-or-die battle in their final round-robin match of the Champions League Twenty20 on Wednesday.
Mumbai Indians are currently at the third position with six points in the points table, while Otago Volts are placed second with 10 points with two victories under their belt and an abandoned game from three ties.
Sitting at the top of Group A table with 12 points, are Rajasthan Royals, who have already made the last four stage.
The Mumbai side will have to play out of their skins to not just earn full marks to make it 10 and come at par with Otago Volts but also finish with a good run-rate, so that if the New Zealand outfit lose their next tie there is a chance for the Indian franchise to make the cut on the basis of a better run average.
Rohit Sharma’s side got a big boost of confidence after a comfortable seven-wicket win over Highvels Lions in their previous encounter and they could not have asked for a weaker opponents than Perth Scorchers in a crucial game.
There is no doubt that a strong Mumbai side would do everything in their power to post a comprehensive victory agianst the Scorchers, if Otago lose their last league tie against Rajasthan Royals to be held in Jaipur.
Even though the star-studded Mumbai outfit did not have an ideal start to the tournament as they suffered a defeat at the hands of Rajasthan Royals in the opening match before the second tie was washed out, they came back strongly to stamp their authority against the Lions.
Having restricted the Lions to a meagre 140 for 5, Mumbai reached the modest target with nine balls to spare and they would look for nothing less than a repeat of that performance where both their batsmen and bowlers fired in unison.
The bowlers, despite the absence of their match-winning pacer Lasith Malinga, did well with Mitchell Johnson, Harbhajn Singh and Pragyan Ojha successfully putting breaks to the opponents’ scoring besides chipping in with important wickets.
While chasing, the batsmen did their job to perfection with Dwayne Smith hitting a 47-ball 63, and Kieron Pollard playing an unbeaten 32-run cameo towards the end; skipper Rohit Sharma, with 20 runs, also contributed to the success.
The worrying part though remains the form of Sachin Tendulkar, playing his last tournament for Mumbai Indians. But over the years he has shown that he always makes it count when it matters the most and the team will be hoping for the veteran batsman to shine.
The favourites Mumbai have the resources to topple the lowly Scorchers, but they would certainly need to guard against over-confidence when they take the field here at the Ferozshah Kotla ground.
The Scorchers, on the other hand, with two loses and a match being abandoned are languishing at the bottom of the table with two points.
Already out of contention for a semifinal spot, the Scorchers have only pride to play for and spoil Mumbai’s chances.
But for that they would require to strike hard with their available resources. Scorchers are here without some key players and have not been able to pose any real challenge to any of their opponents so far in the League.
After an abandoned tie against the Lions, the Scorchers lost to Otago Volts by 62 runs and then got a nine-wicket thrashing at the hands of Rajasthan Royals.
After the Australian side were bundled out for a mere 120 with Adam Voges top-scoring with 27, the Royals chased down the total in just 16.3 overs. But even Voges has now flown home due to a back complaint.
The bowlers, having virtually nothing substantial to defend, also failed to show any fire.
Perth Scorchers, however, have some experience in skipper Simon Katich and Test discard Marcus North, besides a few youngsters who are keen to learn.
Their bowling, led by Joel Paris, is inexperienced and not having played Brad Hogg in the tournament so far haven’t helped their cause. The 42-year-old is expected to be included in the playing XI tomorrow.
Inspite of that the bowlers have an uphill task of stopping the Mumbai batsmen who would be looking to prepare for tougher battles ahead.
The Scorchers’ only advantage is that they have nothing to lose.
Mumbai Indians (Probable): Sachin Tendulkar, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Rishi .Dhawan
Perth Scorchers (Probable): Liam Davis, Ashton Agar, Simon Katich (c), Adam Voges, Hilton Cartwright, Ashton Turner, Tom Triffitt (wk), Joel Paris, Jason Behrendorff, Michael Beer, Joe Mennie.
Time: 16:00 IST | 10:30 GMT