The day has arrived for the first Qualifier of the tenth edition of IPL. The table toppers Mumbai Indians will face a tough challenge when they take on Rising Pune Supergiant in the first playoff match on Tuesday.

Mumbai have lost just four matches out of their 14 this season and with their fierce batting line-up, they will look to be aggressive from ball one. On the other hand, Pune can be destructive in both the departments with so many experienced players in the side who can perform to best of their ability on a given day. In the last two meetings between the two sides, Supergiant has managed to win on both instances.

Dave Whatmore believes that the best teams have entered the playoffs and the team who plays best on the day will reach finals.

“The field is open, and the side that finished in the top 2 has two chances to enter the summit clash. Mumbai Indians or Rising Pune Supergiant will make it, and it’ll be a challenge for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders to become the second team in the final,” Whatmore told.

When asked about Mumbai, Dav did back Malinga up as one of the key players.

“Malinga is the one they go to, but I believe Jasprit Bumrah and Harbhajan Singh will also play key roles. The Sri Lankan slingster has lost a bit of nip, but he can still come up with big performances. All four teams have good attacks, but Malinga has been the trump card for Mumbai all these years,” said the former Australian cricketer, who is a coach at the Sri Ramachandra Sports Centre in Porur.

Royal Challengers Bangalore have disappointed this year with a horrible performance finishing at the bottom. Virat Kohli’s performance too was not up to mark as he lingered on his batting display, but the coach feels Virat would bounce back in the Champions Trophy.

“It was a bad loss of form that led to Bangalore not playing to potential. It’s easy to speak from outside, but when momentum goes in the opposite direction, it’s difficult for a team to bounce back. One hopes to snatch a win here or there and stop the slide, but that was not to be.

They lost a vital player in KL Rahul to injury, with Kohli and AB de Villiers too not available in the initial phase. So it’s a combination of factors that didn’t allow them to fire as a unit,” explained the man who helped Sri Lanka win their first World Cup in 1996.

“Yes, Kohli may not have fired for RCB. But I don’t see that affecting his job as skipper of India in the Champions Trophy. It’s a different tournament, different format and different side. I’m confident that with the team he has, Kohli will do a good job. Let’s not forget that India has been doing well as a unit in the last year or so.”

When asked that how it would be for players to adjust from T20 format to a 50 Over format just after IPL ends, Whatmore said,

“Yes, wickets, conditions, and format are going to be different, which means different sets of skills and mindset. Senior players in various sides are experienced and know how to adapt. But for the rest, it’s an opportunity to learn. Moreover, the pace will be a factor and seamers will come into play, with spin taking a back seat. India has a good bunch of pacers. I was particularly impressed by the way Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled in the IPL. He can swing the ball both ways and I see no reason why he should not do well in England too.”

There are a lot of Indian youngsters who have impressed throughout the season in IPL.When Dave was asked to choose between Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar and Nitish Rana.

“Obviously Pant. To me, he’s the find of this IPL. What clean hitting and confidence!” concluded the coach.

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