Their bid for a third title back on track after a shock defeat in the opening game, defending champions Mumbai Indians would be keen to carry on the winning momentum when they face table toppers Gujarat Lions, who have won both their matches so far, in an IPL game on Saturday.
Unlike the last two years, MI have made a quick turnaround following their humiliating nine-wicket loss against the new IPL team — Rising Pune Supergiants — in their campaign opener at the Wankhede Stadium here on April 9.
They came back strongly to post a thumping six-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders and that augurs well for their expected tough battle against yet another league debutants — Gujarat Lions.
MI had suffered a string of four straight losses initially before overturning despair into delight by storming their way to the title last year. They had lost five straight matches in the beginning in 2014 edition also prior to entering the play-offs.
Keen to avoid a similar run, MI have succeeded in breaking their losing streak early this season. It must be pleasing for the team that it came on the strength of captain Rohit Sharma, who led the way with an attacking, unbeaten 84 that flattened KKR.
Equally pleasing for MI would be the form of new England recruit Jos Buttler. Another important cog in the title holders’ wheel is New Zealand all-rounder Mitchell McClenaghan.
MI, however, would be hoping that not only this trio but also the likes of Hardik Pandya also click against the new franchise led by Suresh Raina.
Mumbai’s top-order, even in the absence of their last season top-scorer Lendl Simmons, ruled out due to injury, wears a healthy look. But it would be hoping to play on a more batsman-friendly wicket than the seam-supported one that was laid for the tournament opener against Pune.
After the sound thrashing at home by the Pune franchise in their first game, MI re-jigged their bowling combination a bit and it paid rich dividends against KKR.
In the light of last year’s success story with Harbhajan Singh forging an effective spin duet with left-arm spinner Jagadeesha Suchith, this duo is expected to be retained for a similar role in the middle overs against the Lions tomorrow.