With Knight Riders zooming up the NRR chart, the defending champions have been left with almost no chance of making the playoffs
After Kolkata Knight Riders’ crushing 86-run win against Rajasthan Royals, the task for defending champions Mumbai Indians to book a playoff berth has become quite improbable. Simply put, they need a miracle. They not only need to win, they need to win big, very big, because of the gap between their net run-rate (-0.048) and Knight Riders’ 0.587, which was already at 0.294 before their win against Royals.
For Mumbai Indians, even a repeat of their dominant eight-wicket win against Royals on Tuesday will not be enough. If they bat first on Friday, Mumbai will have to win by 171 runs to displace Knight Riders from the fourth spot. And if Mumbai bowl first, it’s pretty much out of the question.
Mumbai’s attempt to qualify also comes against a rising Sunrisers outfit, who defended 141 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in a way reminiscent of their old template: put up a middling total and back the potent bowling attack to make it prove enough. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is being as economical as ever, Jason Holder is picking up wickets, and Umran Malik is cranking up the pace. They already spoilt Royal Challengers’ party by not letting them finish in the top two, and now Sunrisers will want to knock Mumbai Indians out.
In the news
Since Sunrisers are not filled with left-hand batters the way Royals were, Mumbai Indians could bring in legspinner Rahul Chahar in place of offspinner Jayant Yadav.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Ishan Kishan (wk), 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Saurabh Tiwary, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 James Neesham, 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Rahul Chahar/Jayant Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Trent Boult
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Abhishek Sharma, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Priyam Garg, 5 Abdul Samad, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Siddarth Kaul, 11 Umran Malik
- Sunrisers would want to save two of their best bowlers, Bhuvneshwar and Rashid Khan, for the belligerent Kieron Pollard. Even though Bhuvneshwar has dismissed Pollard as many as four times in 11 innings, he has leaked 96 runs off 59 balls to the batter. Rashid’s record is way better: 68 runs conceded off 79 balls with one dismissal. If Mumbai Indians chase on Friday, Sunrisers could keep Rashid’s two-odd overs for whenever Pollard comes out.
- Another reason to keep Rashid mostly for the death is his telling record against the out-of-form Hardik Pandya: 18 runs off 33 balls with two wickets.
Stats that matter
- Kane Williamson’s worst record against any one team in the IPL is against Mumbai Indians. In five innings, he has scored just 43 runs with an average of 8.60 and strike rate of 102. He has scored in double digits only once against them.
- Ishan Kishan is yet to be dismissed by Rashid in the IPL, despite having faced 45 balls off him. Kishan is the only left-hand batter to have not been dismissed by Rashid after having faced more than 30 balls.
- Mumbai Indians would be looking to score big and quickly against Sunrisers, but some of their top batters haven’t been too brisk against the same opposition in recent years. Since IPL 2018, Rohit Sharma’s strike rate against Sunrisers is 106, Kishan’s is 95, Suryakumar Yadav’s 112 and Hardik’s 105.
- Trent Boult has gone wicketless in the powerplay in the last five games.
- Rashid has got out three times in six balls to Jasprit Bumrah.
- Friday will be Bhuvneshwar’s 200th T20 game.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo