A star-studded affair awaits us at Wankhede, with two heavyweight teams looking to gain momentum as the tournament begins to enter a phase that many believe is the most crucial one. While RCB have played only two games and won one of them, Mumbai Indians are languishing in the bottom half of the table, with one win in four matches. RCB’s top-heavy batting line-up — consisting of Virat Kohli, A.B. de Villiers and Shane Watson — has done the bulk of the scoring so far, accounting for nearly 80% of the total runs scored and have, in many ways, made up for Chris Gayle’s woeful form. But it’s only a matter of time before Gayle, who’s scored only 13 runs in his last five T20 outings, begins to stamp his authority on the proceedings. When asked about Gayle’s lacklustre performances, skipper Kohli reposed faith on the West Indian, saying he expects the him to come good at some stage in the tournament and that he’s not worried about his batting form.
However, bowling remains a cause for concern. The absence of Mitchell Starc continues to haunt the Bangalore team. They’ve been served well by Watson’s canny off-cutters and subtle changes in pace in the middle overs but the rest of the pack seemed not-so-effective and non-threatening. The Queensland-born all-rounder has managed to hold his own in tense situations, picking crucial wickets and going at less than 7.5 per over — he remains the mainstay of RCB’s bowling.
MI’s batting unit hasn’t clicked yet
Mumbai Indians, a perennial slow starters, have lost both their home matches this season so far. MI’s batting line-up has an unsettled look about it — it has undergone quite a few changes in the four matches they’ve played. The team, as a batting unit, hasn’t clicked yet. There have been isolated flashes of brilliance but nothing of enough substance to make it matter or change the course of the match. Captain Rohit Sharma has had one good knock — a 54-ball 84 during a successful chase of 188 against KKR. Parthiv Patel has got them off to decent starts, scoring 23,34 and 10 in the last three innings but the big scores have remained elusive to the Gujarat batsman. And, much was expected of Hardik Pandya but he has remained a mere shadow of his old self.
The introduction of Martin Guptill, replacing injured Lendl Simmons, will add to the firepower of MI’s batting arsenal. The other batsmen need to revolve around Sharma and Guptill, who are the pillars of the MI’s batting unit.
The pace and swing of Kiwi duo Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan and Jasprit Bumrah’s death bowling remain the key for Mumbai. Southee was taken for runs in the first two games but bounced back strongly with a string of wickets in the last match, with his final figures reading: 4-0-24-3. Harbhajan Singh’s gone under the radar of the selectors for sometime now, and his performance this season has been insipid, to say the least. But the wily off-spinner knows that time is fast running out for him and this season can serve as a launchpad to get back to wearing the Blue jersey.
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