Preview: Mumbai Indians eye CLT20 semis spot; NSW Blues look to avoid elimination

Mumbai Indians are sitting at the top of the table with five points from three matches in the Champions League T20 league Group A AFP

By Arun Pradeep

Chennai: Oct 1, 2011

The in-form Mumbai Indians will be looking to seal a semi-final spot when they take on New South Wales Blues in their final group match of the Champions League Twenty20 on Sunday.

Sitting at the top of the table with 5 points, Mumbai Indians’ bid to enter into the semifinals last night itself got derailed as the match against South African side, Cape Cobras, was abandoned due to heavy rains.

Mumbai are followed by Cobras in the list with three points, while defending champions Chennai Super Kings are on two. And although NSW also have two points but CSK are placed above them by the virtue of a better run-rate.

Caribbean side — Trinidad and Tobago — are languishing at the bottom of the table with no points after narrow defeats in their first two games.

While Mumbai and Cobras have only one group match left, the other teams have two more and almost everyone in the group is with a chance to make it to the last four.

With only one win from three matches so far, the Australian outfit NSW face the prospect of elimination if they lose Sunday’s tie against Mumbai.

Mumbai, meanwhile, have done very well in the tournament so far, having put their injury nightmare behind. They had as many as six Indian players, including their captain Sachin Tendulkar, out due to injury before the start of the series.

Although, Mumbai struggled with their batting initially, but a commanding performance in Friday’s group match against Cape Cobras, where they piled on 176 for five in 20 overs before rain washed it away, shows that their batting unit has finally found its feet in the competition.

Right after MI narrowly defeated Trinidad & Tobago by one wicket, captain Harbhajan Singh had warned his side that unless they improved their batting performance, they would soon be bundled out of the tournament.

Friday’s performance proved that his call to arms had not gone in vain, with Kieron Pollard and little known Sarul Kanwar setting the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore alight with their stroke-play.

NSW’s pace bowlers may be spared a similar treatment on the newly relaid Chennai pitch, which is a lot slower than it used to be and the ball does not come on as readily to the bat.

However, the pitch has aided spin. Simon Katich’s spinners — Steve O’Keefe and Steven Smith — have impressed in their outings here, with O’Keefe in particular succeeding in restricting Trinidad & Tobago to just 15 runs in the Super Over to help NSW register victory.

Besides spinners, Katich will also hope that to his fast bowling department, which includes upcoming pacers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and veteran Stuark Clark, check the threat of Pollard and Co.

As far as batting is concerned, NSW’s focus will be on getting their middle order to fire as they have failed in two matches in a row to build on good starts by their openers, Shane Watson and David Warner.

Katich, Ben Rohrer, Daniel Smith and Steven Smith have contributed just over a 100 runs to the total in NSW’s two matches so far, while Watson and Warner have provided starts in excess of 40 runs in each match. Allrounder Moises Henriques has been only other player, besides the openers to have contributed substantially with the bat.(PTI)


Mumbai Indians (Probable): Harbhajan Singh (c), Aiden Blizzard, Yuzvendra Chahal, James Franklin, Sarul Kanwar, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Rajagopal Sathish, T Suman, Andrew Symonds.

New South Wales (Probable): Simon Katich (c), Stuart Clark, Pat Cummins, Nathan Hauritz, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Steve O’Keefe, Steven Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson

Time: local 16.00 (10.30)