Languishing at the bottom of the table, defending champions Mumbai Indians face the uphill task of lifting themselves back in the reckoning when they take on a resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday.
Having won just two games out of eight they have played so far, the Mumbai side cannot afford to lose any more matches if it has to reach the semifinals. However, it is easier said then done as the Sunrisers have an impressive track record on home ground since the side’s inception last year. Also, the Hyderabad side is already among the top four having won four out of the eight matches it played so far.
Mumbai had comprehensive back-to-back victories against Kings XI Punjab on May 3 and Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 6, but faltered in the game against Chennai Super Kings as the southern side gained upper hand.
Skipper Rohit Sharma and West Indian powerhouse Kieron Pollard have been successful in the current season and the good show of Ambati Rayudu, who made 59 runs in 43 balls in the match against Chennai would reassure the side. Opener Chidambaram Gautam has pulled off a few surprises with his big hits but the other key players like Michael Hussey and the big money man Corey Anderson have failed so far, prompting Mumbai to try several opening combinations and a middle order that is not settled.
Competent bowling units
Mumbai will also be handicapped by the absence of Zaheer Khan owing to an injury, but it has the pedigree in the bowling department. Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha and Praveen Kumar, who replaced Zaheer, did well in the match against Chennai to ease concerns. Hyderabad too have a more than competent bowling unit, led by Dale Steyn and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is one of the leading wicket takers this edition. If they can get their batting to click, especially skipper Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner at the top, then the side can hope to continue their journey up the table while relegating the defending champions to fight for scraps.
Mumbai’s Ambati Rayudu expressed confidence that the side could make it past the league stage. “We have to win most of our away games as well as when we come back here. If we just step it up a little bit, I think we should be okay,” he said.