The league stages of the 2019 IPL are almost over and the battle for the final two spots of the top four is intense. Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings are the two sides who have qualified, and on Thursday (May 2) Mumbai Indians will be in a position to become the third team to secure a berth in the top four.
Mumbai’s rivals on the day, Sunrisers Hyderabad qualify for the playoffs if they win their remaining two encounters against MI and RCB – both away.
Even one victory will almost guarantee them a place in the playoff as their NRR (0.709) is by far the best in the tournament.
There is a lot at stake when the two sides take on each other at the Wankhede Stadium, and there are some key contests within the big battle that could influence this match.
Hardik Pandya vs Rashid Khan
The battle within the battle that could single-handedly change the course of the game irrespective of the situation preceding it.
Hardik Pandya’s ability to use the long handle and suddenly take the bowling apart is well known. Hardik will no doubt be looking to repeat the same as that can only take his side closer to a victory. While his brute power is dangerous for opponents, he is more than capable with the ball and that works to the advantage of Mumbai.
SRH are likely to hold Rashid Khan back for Hardik Pandya. Rashid has 14 wickets to his name and would without a doubt love to add Hardik Pandya to that list.
Rashid has been instrumental in restricting a lot of the big hitters in the game and Williamson will need him to do that once again if they are to keep themselves in the game at the Wankhede. That’s not all as he can strike a few lusty blows, and there is no doubt that SRH would love that too.
Rohit Sharma vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar
The two India teammates have their work cut out in terms of returning to form in white-ball cricket. Rohit however had seemingly turned a corner with a half-century against CSK, before failing to come up with the required performance against the KKR at Eden Gardens. Due for a big knock, Rohit is bound to be feeling the pressure.
On the other hand, Bhuvneshwar has managed just the eight wickets from the 12 games he has played for the Sunrisers Hyderabad and unfortunately has been more expensive than he would have liked. He has gone at almost eight runs an over, which would concern him but will give Rohit hope. One of India’s ace bowlers in the current day and age, a big performance with the ball beckons.
Wriddhiman Saha vs Lasith Malinga
The departure of Jonny Bairstow saw Hyderabad’s free-scoring opening partnership being broken. Up stepped Wriddhiman Saha, who while isn’t the same batsman as Bairstow, can hit it a fair distance and has been tasked with giving his side a brisk start. Now with no David Warner to help him out, how Saha deals with Powerplay will set the tone for his side’s batting performances.
Trying to keep Saha quiet will be Lasith Malinga. The shrewd fast bowler has bags of experience to bank on and will undoubtedly make it extremely difficult for the Indian wicket-keeper batsman to get him away at the top of the innings. The Sri Lankan will look to add to his 12 wickets and will be keen to keep SRH’s top order from getting away.
Kane Williamson vs Jasprit Bumrah
The SRH skipper has not had the most impactful season due to injuries and the complications of team compositions. But, in the business end with two of their best batsmen not in the picture, the pressure to perform has fallen on the shoulders of Kane Williamson. The Kiwi, known for un-T20 like ways, will be called upon to play a captain’s knock against Mumbai on a surface that helps the batsmen.
Whether Williamson, who is more than capable of batting through the innings, can have the desired effect for his side will depend on Jasprit Bumrah. One of the deadliest bowlers with the white-ball, Bumrah's success could make the team's task on the night easier.
Krunal Pandya vs Manish Pandey
For the longest time this season, SRH’s Achilles heel has been their middle order and thankfully for them, Manish Pandey has found form before the final rounds and the playoffs. Pandey, in all probability, will have the task of guiding his side through the middle overs along with the other batsmen who aren’t in the best touch.
Opposition captain Rohit Sharma has been more than happy to depend on Krunal Pandya, who has not disappointed. Whether with the bat or the ball and Krunal is likely to have a similar role against SRH – stop the middle order from getting free runs and upping the scoring rate when it’s his turn with the bat.