IPL 2023: Upbeat Mumbai to take on mighty Gujarat in big clash

The contest could depend on how Mumbai's batters play eight overs of spin from Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad


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Gujarat Titans' Rashid Khan celebrates a wicket with teammates. — AFP
Gujarat Titans' Rashid Khan celebrates a wicket with teammates. — AFP

Published: Thu 11 May 2023, 2:22 PM

An upbeat Mumbai Indians is likely to be tested to the hilt by table-topper and defending champion Gujarat Titans in a vital Indian Premier League match in Mumbai on Friday.

For the first time in this IPL, five-time winner MI have looked promising as it rose to the third spot in the points table with a six-wicket thumping of Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday.

The manner in which MI thrashed RCB — chasing 200 inside 17 overs — highlighted once again how successful their batting has been, even though for the second consecutive game they reshuffled the order in a bid to push the net run rate.

Despite its best batter and captain Rohit Sharma enduring a lean patch with five single-digit scores on the trot, MI’s batting has been nearly unstoppable at the Wankhede Stadium as it successfully chased a target of 200 or above twice in three attempts.

Even against Punjab Kings, MI replied with 201 for 6 while chasing 215.

However, the issue for MI this year is not restricted to Rohit’s form or the absence of Jasprit Bumrah or Jofra Archer, but their bowling which has conceded four consecutive totals above 200, and nearly did so in the game against RCB again.

In the last three games here, opposition sides have raked up 214/8, 212/7 and 199/6, making the most of a flat wicket and perfect batting conditions — something that GT would also like to target.

MI’s bowling did well against RCB to stop its charge in the middle-overs, but GT is not grappling with the issue of not having in-form batters in the lower middle-order like RCB.

Suryakumar Yadav’s 35-ball 83 and Nehal Wadhera’s second fifty of the season handed MI a commanding win over RCB, but the host would know that they cannot afford any slip up against the mighty GT, who is sitting pretty at the top, largely unchallenged.

Suryakumar’s return to form is the biggest positive for MI, for whom the likes of Ishan Kishan, Cameron Green, Tim David and Tilak Varma have done the bulk of scoring. It remains to be seen if Varma is fit for the contest on Friday.

The contest could, however, depend a lot on how MI’s free-flowing batters go against eight overs of spin from Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad, who has thrived in the company of the senior Afghan.

With eight wins in 11 matches, GT is on the brink of making it to the playoffs and be the first team to do so.

Skipper Hardik Pandya and coach Ashish Nehra have successfully managed a conducive environment for the players who have flourished for the franchise this year as well, emerging as a strong contender for the title for the second year in a row.

The highlight for GT is that it has not lost any of the away games and all three loses have so far come at its home ground in Ahmedabad.

The opening pair of Shubman Gill and Wriddhiman Saha poses a lot of threat, and GT has a long list of batters who can up the ante in the bid to get to big totals.

Hardik and David Miller are firing with the bat, and the dangerous Rahul Tewatia’s presence adds more woes for the opposition.

In fact, GT is coming off a huge 56-run win over Lucknow Super Giants, having recorded their highest-ever IPL total of 227 for two.

With the Wankhede being a batting paradise, GT would draw inspiration from its earlier game with MI this season.

While recording a comprehensive 55-run win, GT had piled up 207/6 and kept MI to a paltry 152/9.


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