Punting on the Indians

As Mumbai Indians’ IPL VI campaign gets underway tonight,Bharat Sundaresan tells you what to expect this season at Wankhede.

Written by Express News Service | Published: April 4, 2013 2:37:08 am

As Mumbai Indians’ IPL VI campaign gets underway tonight,Bharat Sundaresan tells you what to expect this season at Wankhede.

Schedule

April 9,Tuesday: Mumbai vs Delhi at 8pm

Mumbai came unstuck in dramatic fashion against Delhi’s pace barrage on a lively Wankhede wicket last season being bowled out for 92,their second-lowest total of all time. And the Daredevils will arrive with all guns blazing once again with Umesh Yadav,Morne Morkel and Andre Russell expected to set the pulses racing. But with Ricky Ponting and Philip Hughes at the top of the order,Mumbai seem better equipped to handle the speed challenge this time around,on paper anyway.

Overall: Played: 10,Won: 5,Lost: 5

At Home: Played: 4,Won: 3,Lost: 1

April 13,Saturday: Mumbai vs Pune at 4 pm

The Maharashtra derbies have so far proved to be nerve-wracking affairs,especially at the Wankhede Stadium. Despite being low-scoring contests,both matches have gone down to the wire. This year promises to be no different. Yuvraj Singh’s IPL return to Mumbai will be highly anticipated but the key to success for the hosts will be curbing the influence of the incessant all-round talent that Pune possesses from skipper Angelo Mathews,Marlon Samuels to local-boy Abhishek Nayar.

Overall: Played: 4,Won: 3,Lost: 1

At Home: Played: 2,Won: 1,Lost: 1

April 27,Saturday: Mumbai vs Bangalore at 8 pm

Mumbai have never beaten Bangalore in a league match at home. Over the last few seasons,the highlight feature of a Mumbai-RCB clash has been the tee-off contest between Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard. And the two brawny men from the Caribbean will be at it again though it’s been the Jamaican who’s held the upper hand so far. The battle of wits between Tendulkar and Muralitharan,probably for the last time,is another tantalizing proposition.

Overall: Played: 11,Won: 6,Lost: 5

At Home: Played: 4,Won: 1,Lost: 3

April 29,Monday: Mumbai vs Punjab at 8 pm

Punjab have traditionally been a bugbear team for Mumbai at home. Invariably they’ve found an unexpected hero at the Wankhede. They also possess in Adam Gilchrist a proven superstar and one who’s enjoyed batting in Mumbai as far as the IPL is concerned. And the Australian great will be looking to bid adieu in style though this time around the Punjab skipper will pitting his skills against a counterpart who knows his game as well as anyone else. Gilchrist vs Ponting has to be one for the ages.

Overall: Played: 10,Won: 4,Lost: 6

At Home: Played: 4,Won: 2,Lost: 2

May 5,Sunday: Mumbai vs Chennai at 4 pm

This has always been a marquee contest in the IPL sphere,Mumbai have dominated proceedings at home,having never lost at the Wankhede to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s canary yellow army. They did come very close to losing their fortress last year before Dwayne Smith emerged from the shadows and smashed Ben Hilfenhaus for a last-ball six. A lot will also be at stake in the spin department as India’s erstwhile tweak twins Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha look to outperform the pairing that has pushed them down the pecking order—R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Overall: Played: 11,Won: 6,Lost: 5

At Home: Played: 5,Won: 4,Lost: 1

May 7,Tuesday: Mumbai vs Kolkata Knight Riders at 8 pm

Shahrukh Khan might have been banned from entering the Wankhede Stadium but KKR matches in Mumbai always end up being fashionable affairs both on and off the field. With the who’s who of Bollywood sure to be in attendance,the fans at the ground will be in for a double treat as always. The defending champions have an awful record against Mumbai and recorded their first win here last year. Mumbai’s major quest will once again be to overcome the tricks that Sunil Narine brings out from his box of magic.

Overall: Played: 10,Won: 8,Lost: 2

At Home: Played: 4,Won: 3,Lost: 1

May 13,Monday: Mumbai vs Sunrisers at 8 pm

The last time the Hyderabad franchise were at Wankhede,then under the banner of the Deccan Chargers,Dale Steyn produced arguably the finest spells of fast bowling in T20 history. Rohit Sharma for one is sure to agree. And though highly under-rated in this their maiden season,the Sunrisers could pull the rug from under Mumbai’s feet cause there’s no dearth of talent in their ranks. And Steyn could well provide an exhibition of what India will expect in South Africa later this year with another burst of lethal speed and seam. Shikhar Dhawan,fresh from having become the fastest debut centurion in Test history,will be one to watch as well.

Sunrisers are making their maiden appearance

May 15,Wednesday: Mumbai vs Rajasthan Royals at 8 pm

Kieron Pollard dealt Rajasthan a royal thrashing last year,scoring his highest IPL score,and sending the ball scurrying to the upper tiers of the various stands at Wankhede. He then followed it up with four wickets with the ball. Pollard and Mumbai though will have to contend with the wiliest spin attacks in the competition. Brad Hogg is a handful on most days but with the thrifty Samuel Badree—the Trinidadian who boasts of the lowest economy rate in T20 history—for company,the Rahul Dravid-led Royals have an added edge. The battle of the slingas,Malinga and Tait,will be another fascinating feature of this contest. It will also bring some great rivals on the same field—Dravid,Ponting,Tendulkar,Harbhajan—for probably the last time ever.

Overall: Played: 9,Won: 5,Lost: 4

At Home: Played: 4,Won: 3,Lost: 1

Mumbai Indians’ wish list

Harbhajan to recapture his knack of taking wickets

Rohit Sharma to bat in the free-spirited fashion,which he displayed with Deccan Chargers

Wicket-taker Pragyan Ojha to play more matches

For the real Pollard to stand up,with the bat anyway

Dinesh Karthik,the only wicket-keeper with international pedigree to contribute more with the bat

Find a stable opening partner for Sachin Tendulkar To keep Munaf Patel fit throughout the IPL season

Utilize pacers Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Coulter-Nile judiciously to give Malinga crucial breaks and keep him fresh.

Look to get more runs out of the local boys,the likes of Rayudu and Suryakumar Yadav

Hope John Wright and Anil Kumble recreate the old spark and get Mumbai to click during the business end of the tournament

DID YOU KNOW?

BOUNDARY METER

Sachin Tendulkar has hit 257 fours in 64 IPL matches,the most-ever by any batsman. The second best for Mumbai interestingly Ambati Rayudu with 99.

SIX QUOTIENT

Not surprisingly,Pollard leads the way in the sixes department among present Mumbai batsmen,having cleared the fence on 37 occasions in 44 matches. Rayudu comes second here as well with 36 in 47 matches. But the most prolific six-hitter in the Indians’ camp has been Rohit Sharma,who with 31 sixes in 33 matches clears the ropes more often than anyone else.

YORKED BY MALINGA

The Lasith Malinga yorker has been one of the features of the IPL ever since the Sri Lankan speedster jumped on the bandwagon in 2009. His 83 wickets at a staggering strike rate of a wicket ever 15.6 balls put him way ahead of the pack in terms of most victims—Amit Mishra is a distant second with 74 scalps. Incidentally,Malinga started his IPL career a season later than every other bowler in the top-15 of the wicket-takers’ list. Not surprisingly,39 out of Malinga’s victims have had their stumps knocked back with 29 falling prey to the deadly yorker.

KOLKATA BASHERS

They might be the defending champions this year,but Kolkata Knight Riders have struggled against Mumbai Indians traditionally in the IPL. In 10 matches between the two teams,Mumbai have won on eight occasions and have had the wood on the Shahrukh Khan-owned franchise.

IMPRESSIONABLE INDIANS

Mumbai have had a penchant of being swayed by present fads when it comes to vying for one-off wonders in the T20 world. It started with Graham Napier in 2009 after the Essex all-rounder had smashed 152 off just 58 balls that season in the English T20. Then came Pollard following his Champions League exploits. Davy Jacobs’ CL exploits the next season for the Lions won him an IPL contract as well just like fellow Protean who was donning a Mumbai jersey a month after smashing the fastest T20 hundred against New Zealand. This time it’s Glenn Maxwell’s turn and it remains to be seen whether Mumbai’s latest pricy punt justifies his staggering signing amount. Incidentally while Maxwell’s handful T20 heroics won him a million-dollar contract,Ricky Ponting’s 20,000+ international runs fetched him a single bid of $400,000.

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