Water, water, everywhere, and all the hopes did shrink. Mumbai Indians’ chances of progressing to the Champions League Twenty20 knockout stage grappled for life as torrential rains caused havoc in Ahmedabad.
A defeat to Rajasthan Royals preceded the abandonment of MI’s match against Otago Volts, leaving Rohit Sharma’s side with only two points from as many games.
Even if MI wins its remaining group ‘A’ fixtures against Highveld Lions and Perth Scorchers, qualification would not be guaranteed. Volts can seal a semifinal spot by winning their next two matches.
In fact, considering the New Zealanders’ significantly superior net run-rate, a single victory should be enough.
Fortunately, though, MI has been handed a lifeline. Originally slated to play Friday’s match against Lions in Ahmedabad, Mumbai Indians will now return to the site of its opening-day defeat after the organisers changed the venue owing to inclement weather.
Fans at Sawai Mansingh Stadium will be excited to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat again, after cheering him throughout his laborious 17-ball innings of 15 against RR.
Before the tournament, skipper Sharma said that his team wanted to win the trophy for the maestro.
Hence, in the process of delighting his supporters, Tendulkar could also keep alive his teammates’ vow with a much-needed return to form against Lions.
No mean task
It would be no mean task, though, as the South African side possesses a formidable bowling unit.
Despite conceding 183 in its loss to RR here on Wednesday, Lions’ bowlers did restrict the opposition for a significant period.
Two poor overs cost 43 runs, but Lonwabo Tsotsobe (two for 26 in four overs), Sohail Tanvir (one for 36 in four) and Dwaine Pretorius (two for 27 in four) hardly offered any freebies.
However, Lions’ batting evokes serious concern. Tanvir himself admitted that the batting line-up is short on experience, with only Alviro Petersen (40 off 28 balls) providing considerable resistance against RR.
Opener Quinton de Kock possesses an impressive record in domestic T20 cricket (1126 runs in 45 matches at an average of 32.17, strike rate- 136.48) but a poor IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad (a meagre six runs in three games) has lowered his stock. Experienced batsman Neil McKenzie could return from injury to bolster the batting unit.
Still, MI should enjoy bowling against this lot, especially Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
The Aussie duo extracted significant assistance from the SMS track against RR and was ably supported by an aggressive Rishi Dhawan.
However, after failing to spark in the tournament opener, the pressure remains on MI’s batting line-up.