Mumbai Indians look to seal spot in play-offs while Sunrisers Hyderabad figure out life without David Warner

Mumbai: Their batting mainstay, Australian David Warner no longer available, Sunrisers Hyderabad face a formidable task when they square off against Mumbai Indians in a crucial IPL match here on Thursday. The match is important for both sides as a victory will bolster their play-off chances while a defeat would bring them one step closer to the exit door. Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals have already sealed their play-off spots, while the other two slots are yet to be decided.

Currently, MI are on third position with 14 points from 12 games, while the SRH are in the fourth spot with 12 points from as many matches. If MI win on Thursday, they qualify for the play-offs while a victory for SRH will take them level on 14 points with the home side and both will have to wait longer to know their fate. Warner, after scoring a staggering 692 runs from 12 matches, headed home to take part in the national camp ahead of the World Cup, which begins on May 30 in England.

The void left by his departure would be felt and in his absence, captain Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, all-rounder Vijay Shankar and comeback man Wriddhiman Saha will have to shoulder the responsibility. SRH bowlers have performed well in patches and need to get their act together against MI’s strong batting line-up. MI have been well-served by South African Quinton de Kock (393 from 12 matches) and captain Rohit Sharma (307 from 11) at the top. In hard-hitting all-rounder Hardik Pandya (355 from 12) and West Indian powerhouse Kieron Pollard (228 from 12), MI possess two batsmen who routinely take the opposition bowling attack to the cleaners in the last few overs of the innings.

The likes of Surya Kumar Yadav and Krunal Pandya will need to convert starts into bigger scores against the multi-pronged SRH attack in which Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan (14 wickets) has been the standout performer. Sandeep Sharma (12 wickets from 11 matches), Khaleel Ahmed (11 from 6) and the experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar (8 from 12), along with the Afghan spin twins Rashid and Mohammed Nabi, provide quality to the SRH bowling attack.  The home side will miss left-arm Australian pacer Jason Behrendroff, who has also headed home to take join the World Cup camp.

Jasprit Bumrah (13 from 12), Lasith Malinga (12 from 8), Hardik Pandya (10 from 12) and spinners Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya form MI’s backbone in bowling. MI have won only three of their home games out of the five played so far and do not enjoy the earlier aura of invincibility in familiar surroundings.

Probable XI
Mumbai Indians
Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (C), Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Barinder Sran.

Sunrisers Hyderabad
Martin Guptill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Kane Williamson (C), Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Abhishek Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed.

SRH have special plans for Hardik

Mumbai: Sunrisers Hyderabad head coach Tom Moody is confident that his team would be able to successfully execute their plans and stop Mumbai Indians’ impact player Hardik Pandya, when the two teams lock horns in an IPL encounter. “There are a number of players playing in the tournament like Hardik – they are impact players, dangerous players. The bottom line is you need to remove them, you need to get them out because if they spend time in the middle, they are going to hurt you,” said Moody at the media conference. Moody said that they have certain plans ready for Hardik.

“We have our plans set for the likes of Hardik. (Kieron) Pollard is another one, who can cause havoc at the back-end of T20 games,” added Moody. Pandya has been in terrific form in this IPL season, having smashed 27 sixes and 25 fours, most of them in the last few overs. Moody insisted that last year’s losing finalists SRH will approach the game at the Wankhede Stadium as they had done from the beginning – without putting pressure on themselves. “For us, this game is no different from our first game of the tournament. It’s an important game like every game in this tournament is. We all know that this is a tough competition, so our approach is certainly no different. “We are not putting ourselves under any additional pressure. That’s not gonna (going to) do us any good. We just need to make sure that we compete for 40 overs,” he remarked.

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