In the land of traders, Ahmedabad, it’s Hardik Pandya who holds the trade secrets of his opposite number.
A product of Mumbai Indians, Hardik has carved his own legacy as a successful leader with Gujarat Titans, and taken them to back-to-back playoffs in two seasons. But is that enough to halt a rampaging Mumbai Indians, a team that has given no due to its own pain and losses en route yet another dash towards the IPL final?
How much would those trade secrets really matter in Friday’s Qualifier 2? After all, in playoffs, Mumbai Indians have historically presented their best version – winning 9 out of 10 times. Moreover, they are the only team to beat Gujarat Titans more than once. Most importantly, they find themselves here against the league table-toppers in the penultimate clash of the season despite a shaky start and the absence of key personnels.
Who really holds the momentum?
Only a week ago, Shane Bond, Mumbai Indians’ bowling coach, was livid and in no mood to hide his frustration following Mumbai Indians’ loss against Lucknow Super Giants in the league phase. The bowlers were not sticking to their plans, he complained. The fact that their attack was handicapped by the absence of two most important investments – Jofra Archer and Jasprit Bumrah – was no excuse according to him.
Their younger lot has turned up. Akash Madhwal may not cover up for the absence of Bumrah and Archer, but his drastic improvement has eased a bit of Mumbai Indians’ worries. His economy rate in the powerplay (7.25) and death overs (7.26) has allowed the foreign pacers – Jason Behrendorff and Chris Jordan – to operate freely in their more specialised roles.
Add to that the batting muscle that Tilak Varma and Nehal Wadhera have added to its line-up, and the five-time champions have been able to forge a team that can hunt down big totals as well as bowl out oppositions, much like Titans
Pacers have had more success in Ahmedabad than any other venue this season, and if MI’s non-fancied opening bowlers – who have improved significantly in the second half of the tournament – are able to dismiss the top-order early, they could pose a stiff challenge.
Both teams have the resources as well as the confidence of doing well in pressure games. Both teams like to present a picture of calm. It’s a live Friday blockbuster marked and promised.
When: Friday, March 26, 2023, 7:30 PM IST
Where: Gujarat Titans vs Mumbai Indians, Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
What to expect: The temperature is likely to hover around the 40-degree mark. On what’s expected to be a fast track with ample run-scoring opportunities, both teams would look to chase, especially given their high-success rate while batting second. Dew, however, is not expected to play a big part.
Head to head: Gujarat Titans 1 – 2 Mumbai Indians.
Tactics & Matchups: Mohammed Shami will hold the key in the Powerplay. Mumbai Indians openers – Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan – have struggled to score freely against the seamer, scoring at a strike rate of 118.52 and 105.56 respectively in the IPL.
Probable XII: Wriddhiman Saha, Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar, David Miller, Dasun Shanaka, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Yash Dayal, Alzarri Joseph/Noor Ahmed/Josh Little, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma
Tactics & Matchups: Suryakumar Yadav will hold the key in the middle order. He is one of the rare batters in the IPL to have not been dismissed by Rashid Khan, who has otherwise done exceedingly well against MI. The two have had a 47-ball face-off, with Surya scoring 67 runs against the leggie. On the contrary, GT’s middle order batters have struggled against left-arm orthodox spin, with Hardik, Shankar, Miller and Tewatia scoring at a strike rate of less than 120.
Probable XII: Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Nehal Wadhera, Tim David, Chris Jordan, Piyush Chawla, Akash Madhwal, Kumar Kartikeya, Jason Behrendorff
Did You Know:
- David Miller may have scored only 1 fifty against Mumbai Indians, but he strikes at over 140 at an average of 40 against MI. In Ahmedabad, this season, he has scored at an average of 41.6 and a strike rate of 167.74
- Mohammed Shami has never dismissed Ishan Kishan in IPL in the 54-ball face-off between the two
- With 722 runs, Shubman Gill is currently the second-highest Indian run-getter in an IPL season behind Virat Kohli’s 973 runs in IPL 2016. He is also nine runs away from bagging the Orange Cap from Faf du Plessis. If he does that, he will be the sixth India to finish as the highest run-getter in a season.