Kanpur, May 20 (IANS) Faced with a must-win situation for a berth in the Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs, Mumbai Indians will have their task cut out in their last league encounter, when they face Gujarat Lions here on Saturday.
Placed at the fifth spot with seven wins from 13 matches, the defending champions are locked on 14 points with Royal Challengers Bangalore (3rd) and Kolkata Knight Riders (4th), only to sit behind due to a low run-rate.
On the other hand, having won their previous game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), second-placed Gujarat Lions will aim to seal their play-off berth with a win.
Going into Saturday’s tie at the Green Park Stadium, Mumbai will once again hope for a solid batting performance from the likes of skipper Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Keiron Pollard and Krunal Pandya.
Krunal, who blasted a 37-ball 86 to help Mumbai thrash Delhi Daredevils by 80 runs in their previous outing, will once again hope for a repeat of his swashbuckling form.
Pollard and England’s Jos Buttler are also in good nick and Mumbai will expect the duo’s fireworks in the middle order.
The bowling department boasts of New Zealander Mitchell McClenaghan, who with 17 wickets in 13 matches, remains the top wicket-taker this edition. He has been supported well by Jasprit Bumrah with 14 scalps. Tim Southee and Hardik Pandya have also been impressive.
Meanwhile, after a great outing in their adopted home ground against KKR, the Lions would want to repeat their show to stay in the hunt.
The batting will centre around Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum and stumper Dinesh Karthik while skipper Suresh Raina will be aiming to continue from where he left against KKR. Raina’s unbeaten 53 took the game away from Gautam Gambhir’s side by six wickets on Thursday.
The middle order boasts of Australian stroke-maker Aaron Finch and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who can tear apart any bowling attack on their day.
Gujarat’s bowling has the much-needed variety with chinaman Shivil Kaushik and leg-spinner Pravin Tambe while the pace battery led by Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni will surely test the Mumbai batters.