With MI’s batting finally clicking, LSG bowlers have task cut out

Chennai: The batting unit finally clicking and a rather dramatic entry into the IPL play-offs will make Mumbai Indians a more confident side when they meet the plucky Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator here on Wednesday.

Mumbai Indians have a come a long from their woeful performance last year, when they came up with one of their worst showings in IPL, finishing last.

Having come this far in IPL 2023 after Gujarat Titans did them a good turn by defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore and pitch-forking the five-time champions into the Eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants, the Rohit Sharma-led side would like to make the most of the proverbial ‘life’ to go the distance and win their sixth title.

Lucknow Super Giants would know all too well that they were eliminated at the same stage last year by RCB after being one of the most dominating sides.

They have looked a cohesive side despite the absence of regular skipper KL Rahul but the way Krunal Pandya has tactfully marshalled his resources would once again be crucial as they meet the most successful IPL side that seems to have found its mojo after striking success at the back-end of the tournament.

One cannot overestimate the contribution of tall Australian all-rounder Cameron Green, who smacked an unbeaten century to help MI win their last league game against Sunrisers Hyderabad before GT defeated RCB.

Green (381 runs), along with a resurgent Suryakumar Yadav (511 runs, one century, four fifties), skipper Rohit (313) and Ishan Kishan (439), will be their key batters when they taken on LGS in the do-or-die clash.

With Mumbai’s batting puzzle finally falling in place, LSG bowlers will be aware that they have a task on hand to contain the likes of Rohit and Co. if they get going.

Here, leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi will have a big role to play if the team hopes to keep MI in check.

Bishnoi (16 wickets from 14 matches) has been the leading bowler for LSG and he would be skipper Krunal’s go-to bowler. But it would also be important for the likes of Naveen-ul-Haq and Avesh Khan, besides Krunal himself and veteran Amit Mishra, to step up.

LSG have seen MI go down rather tamely to Chennai Super Kings here in the preliminary phase with the batting coming a cropper. They would want to exploit the shortcoming and deny the side that has been struggling to put up a decent pace bowling attack in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer.

LSG’s batting has clicked despite the absence of Rahul and they qualified for the playoffs rather comfortably with Marcus Stoinis (368 runs, 14 matches) coming to the fore with his big-hitting.

Kyle Mayers (361 runs) and Nicholas Pooran (358) have brought the Caribbean flair and been vital cogs in LSG’s performance. How they fare at the Chepauk, which has often thrown up slowish pitches, would have a bearing on the outcome of the match.

Mayers had batted well in LSG’s defeat to CSK early in the league phase before the wheels came off. If he can get the team off to a quick start that would be half the job done.

His fellow West Indian Pooran would have a bigger role to play in the middle-order and given that he has been in good form he would fancy his chances.

Mumbai Indians would like to utilise the experience of Piyush Chawla — the unlikely hero in the bowling department with 20 wickets so far — while Jason Behrendorff (14) has done a decent job whenever called up. Their value to the side can’t be overemphasised, more so in a crunch game.

Teams (from): Lucknow Super Giants: Krunal Pandya (c), Ayush Badoni, Karan Sharma, Manan Vohra, Quinton de Kock, Marcus Stoinis, Krishnappa Gowtham, Deepak Hooda, Kyle Mayers, Avesh Khan, Mohsin Khan, Mark Wood, Mayank Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi, Nicholas Pooran, Yash Thakur, Romario Shepherd, Daniel Sams, Amit Mishra, Prerak Mankad, Swapnil Singh, Naveen-ul-Haq, Yudhvir Charak and Karun Nair.

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Chris Jordan, Arshad Khan, Jason Behrendorff, Dewald Brevis, Piyush Chawla, Tim David, Raghav Goyal, Cameron Green, Ishan Kishan (wk), Duan Jansen, Chris Jordan, Kumar Kartikeya, Akash Madhwal, Riley Meredith, Shams Mulani, Ramandeep Singh, Sandeep Warrier, Hrithik Shokeen, Tristan Stubbs, Arjun Tendulkar, Tilak Varma, Vishnu Vinod, Nehal Wadhera, Suryakumar Yadav.

Match starts: 7.30 pm.