With both teams eyeing a knock-out stage berth, a consistent Mumbai Indians will lock horns with dark horses Sunrisers Hyderabad in a crucial 62nd match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) tie at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.
The Mumbai Indians have an impeccable home record this year with six wins at the Wankhede Stadium in as many matches and the hosts would look to maintain that, especially when a win would guarantee them a spot at the play-off stage.
The Rohit-Sharma led side is placed second on the league table having won nine out of 13 matches and has 18 points, while the Hyderabad franchise has 16 points in 13 games with eight wins.
Mumbai inched closer to a play-off berth with a clinical performance to defeat state rivals Pune Warriors by five wickets on Saturday.
Mumbai’s top-order hasn’t fired in unison in most of the games and even against the weaker Pune attack, they lost West Indian opener Dwayne Smith for a nought.
Senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar has failed to convert his starts into big scores, his highest score being 54 in 13 games. He has aggregated just 249 runs at an average of 19.15.
Smith has looked in good touch with 263 runs in nine matches under his belt.
Rohit has led from the front and is the highest run-scorer for the side with 467 in 13 games at an average of 51.88. He has been at the backbone of the Mumbai batting along with wicket keeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik.
The stumper has scored 405 runs in 13 games with two half centuries.
The bowling attack comprising Aussie pacer Mitchell Johnson [19 wickets] and Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga [11 wickets] have been formidable. Johnson, by his own admission, has been in the form of his life and has been the key bowler for the Mumbai Indians outfit, making early inroads into the opposition batting order.
The duo has been complemented well by Indian spin twins Harbhajan Singh [17 wickets] and Pragyan Ojha [14 wickets] who have been choking up the runs and also taking wickets in the middle overs.
On the other hand, a win on Monday will certainly keep the Hyderabad franchise in hunt for a berth in the knock-out stage of the competition.
Hyderabad kept themselves in contention for a spot with a 30-run victory over Kings XI Punjab last night. They will take heart from the fact that last time these two teams met, they managed to outclass Mumbai and won the game by seven wickets.
However, the wins that Hyderabad has notched up so far have been low scoring ones and the lack of batting depth is seriously hurting the franchise.
The team has lost its matches when it has posted a score in excess of 140 while batting first, except the game against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday.
The Sunrisers may not boast of a star-studded line up but have a lethal bowling attack comprising world’s fastest bowler Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma along with crafty leg-spinner Amit Mishra.
Besides, all-rounders Thisara Perera and Darren Sammy have made meaningful contributions.
The batting, in contrast, has been hurting them. Opener Shikhar Dhawan, who returned to the squad after his hand injury, gave some match winning performances at the start but has been struggling to get going in the last few games.
Opener and keeper-bat Parthiv Patel scored his first half century in three years in the previous game and if Hyderabad harbour any hopes of making it to the next stage of the tournament, they need both their openers to fire.
The four foreigner rule certainly seems to be hurting them, as Hyderabad have been changing their captain with either Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara leading the side or Aussie Cameron White.
Both the captains haven’t exactly fired with the bat with White aggregating 133 runs in nine games, including a half century to his credit, while Sangakkara has scored just 120 runs in nine games.