Finishing the league stage at the top of the tree, there are several reasons for the Mumbai Indians to smile about.
After a disappointing edition in 2016, when the team failed to qualify for the playoffs, the side looked clinical this time around and made the necessary alterations needed to succeed. An ideal mix of experience and youth, mixed with the passion for being on the top, has transformed the Mumbai Indians into a powerhouse. With 20 points to their name in the league stage, that was quite obvious.
However, a stern test for the side’s character now lies in store, as they are slated to face a side which defeated them on both occasions this season – Rising Pune Supergiant. Even though a loss in the first qualifier wouldn’t mean an exit, the Rohit Sharma-led outfit wouldn’t want to leave things for too late and would want to qualify for the final at the earliest. In the fortress of the Wankhede Stadium, there is an ideal opportunity to do so.
Their previous clash was witnessed at the same venue, as an absolute nail-biter of a contest was seen. It was a game, which highlighted the calm demeanour of Jaydev Unadkat at the death, as the pacer successfully bowled the last over to win the game for his side by a mere margin of three runs.
Batting first, Pune got to a decent total of 160, powered mainly by opener Rahul Tripathy’s 45. In response, Mumbai seemed to be in the chase and with skipper Rohit Sharma scoring a half-century, the chase seemed well under control.
However, a few tight overs at the end strangled the hosts, which ultimately led to them losing the game by a narrow margin.
Recent form this season:
MI: W, L, L, W, W
RPS: W, L, W, W, W
Ambati Rayudu couldn’t have asked for a better return to the side, as his fine half-century set the base for Mumbai Indians against Kolkata Knight Riders. Rayudu is an extremely seasoned campaigner and a proven champion for this side. Keeping in mind his experience and abilities, Rayudu is a must for the playoffs. Due to fizzling out in the latter stages of the tournament, Rayudu should replace Nitish Rana.
Parthiv Patel can be expected to open the innings alongside Lendl Simmons and Rohit Sharma should promote himself at number three. At 3, the flamboyant batsman will get more deliveries to face, making him a lethal package. Other than that, the tried and tested winning combination should be persisted with.
MI Predicted XI:
- P. Patel (wk) 2. L. Simmons 3. R. Sharma (c) 4. A. Rayudu 5. K. Pollard 6. K. Pandya 7. H. Pandya 8. H. Singh 9. M. McClenaghan 10. L. Malinga 11. J. Bumrah