Confidence bolstered after an inspirational run chase against Kolkata Knight Riders, a confident Mumbai Indians is ready to lock horns with defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in an Indian Premier League encounter, in Mumbai on Wednesday.
It will be a battle of youngsters with the likes of Nitish Rana, Hardik Pandya on one side and the new star in the horizon Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan with his variations on the other side.
Known for their sluggish starts in previous editions, Mumbai Indians have logged home full points in their very second match thanks to Rana’s half-century and brilliant cameo from Hardik Pandya.
This was after Hardik’s elder brother Krunal put up an impressive performance with the ball grabbing three wickets.
However the third game of the tournament will be the toughest one for Mumbai as they face an in-form Sunrisers squaring off after a couple of comprehensive victories in their previous encounters.
What must have pleased the Mumbai team management is the fact that the win against KKR was achieved with contribution from team’s younger lot.
It was a special knock by Delhi boy Rana, who had suffered a setback recently during the domestic season when he was sent back home by Delhi coachj KP Bhaskar on selector’s insistence after three failures in the Vijay Hazaare Trophy.
Ironical it was that Rana’s hour of glory came against Gautam Gambhir’s team as it was the former India opener who had vehemently protested the manner in which the youngster was axed from the squad.
On his part, Rana showed enormous maturity after departure of senior players like Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma.
Hardik’s 11-ball 29 showed why Indian team management rates him so highly in limited overs format.
Earlier, his brother Krunal put brakes on KKR with two quick wickets during the early part of the innings.
Mumbai would now be hoping that their regulars Rohit, Pollard and Harbhajan also hit the straps at the earliest.
Rohit will like to get a good score under the belt since he is coming back from injury and got a harsh decision against KKR. His show of dissent earned him a reprimand also.
With Lasith Malinga improving in his latter spell after being off the boil in his first over, and Jasprit Bumrah around to bowl into the block-hole, Mumbai’s death bowling looks sorted for now.
The one change Mumbai could make is to bring in Tim Southee for his New Zealand compatriot Mitchell McClenaghan, who leaked plenty of runs against KKR.
Whatever be the combination, it will but will have to confront a superb finisher like Yuvraj Singh.
The swashbuckler did not get to bat in the second game against Gujarat Lions, with captain David Warner and fellow-Australian all rounder Moises Henriques finishing the job of chasing a small total with aplomb.
David Warner’s return to form will also keep Mumbai worried.
The X-factor in the attack is Afghanistan leggie Rashid, who has bamboozled the batsmen in both matches and has already five scalps in his kitty.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (Capt), Jasprit Bumrah, Jos Buttler, Shreyas Gopal, Krishnappa Gowtham, Asela Gunaratne, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Kulwant Khejroliya, Siddhesh Lad, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Punia, Nitish Rana, Ambati Rayudu, Jitesh Sharma, Karn Sharma, Lendl Simmons, Tim Southee, Jagadeesha Suchith, Saurabh Tiwary and R Vinay Kumar.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (Capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Moises Henriques, Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda, Ben Cutting, Naman Ojha, Bipul Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Tanmay Agarwal, Ricky Bhui, Eklavya Dwivedi, Chris Jordan, Kane Williamson, Siddharth Kaul, Ben Laughlin, Abhimanyu Mithun, Mohd Nabi, Mohd Siraj, Vijay Shankar, B Sran and Pravin Tambe.