MUMBAI: Having just edged out the Gujarat Lions at Rajkot in a nerve-racking game on Saturday night, which led to IPL-10’s first tie, fatigue may perhaps be the Mumbai Indians’ biggest challenge as they pick themselves up in little more than 24 hours’ time to face the down-and-out Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday afternoon.
The biggest incentive for Rohit Sharma & Co to go all out in the 4 pm heat is to secure a playoff berth which not only enables them to play the first qualifier at home on May 16 but also gives them another shot at the title should they have an off day on that occasion.
In stark contrast, last year’s finalists’ RCB, who flattered to deceive despite the presence of some of the biggest names in world cricket, would now look to play the party poopers. After enduring seven defeats in 10 games, this star-studded outfit has crashed out by the mid-way stage of the tournament, and will now look to play for pride. On the other hand, though they’ve done well to win seven out of their nine games, MI must thank their Gujarati duo of Parthiv Patel (44-ball 70) and seamer Jasprit Bumrah (conceded only six in the super over) for helping them get out of jail against Gujarat.
The only time the Mumbaikar got going was during his 32-ball 58 against Rising Pune Supergiant at Wankhede, but that knock was marred after he squabbled with the umpire over a controversial wide and lost 50 per cent of his match fee.
Other than this worry, MI have plenty to rejoice about this season. Like Rohit, their ace bowler Lasith Malinga too was out of form, but the Lankan ‘toe-crusher’ made an impactful return in the last outing, cleaning up the dangerous duo of Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch.