Mumbai Indians look to seal semi-final spot
Match factsSeptember 30, Bangalore
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
The race for semi-final spots from Group A intensifies as Mumbai Indians and Cape Cobras clash in Bangalore. MI are on top of the table with two scarcely believable wins, while the Cobras are stuck in mid-table traffic after suffering an unlikely defeat at the hands of Dwayne Bravo and Chennai Super Kings. Another win for MI will confirm their passage to the semi-finals with a game to play. A Cobras victory, on the other hand, will open up the group and leave statistics experts fiddling with calculators to figure out the permutations.
The Cobras will have to recover quickly from the defeat but can take heart from their fluent victory against New South Wales in their first game. They won't mind the true bounce and the quick outfield at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, but will first have to shake off the slow-and-low hangover from Chepauk. Dale Steyn, who got clobbered by Bravo in his final over in Chennai, will look forward to a fresh start at his erstwhile IPL home venue, too.
Mumbai Indians have already played a game in Bangalore, the madcap low-scoring thriller against Trinidad & Tobago, and would have picked up valuable lessons from that outing. They will be hard-pressed to explain their position in the points table, given how abysmal their batting has been. In the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma and now Davy Jacobs, the top order is bereft of quality and confidence. Their bowling has been incisive, though, with Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh doing the damage, with the support cast doing an adequate job.
Watch out for …
The doosra remains elusive but the floater is back, and there are fleeting signs of the trademark loop too. Harbhajan Singh has bowled well, and has also been proactive with his field placements. This time, however, he will be taking the field on the back of a personal reversal, having been dropped from the Indian team for the first time in years. Can he put the setback behind him and help continue his side's unbeaten run?
Twenty20 is the most fickle form of the game. Ask JP Duminy who batted attractively and bowled a crafty spell of offspin to derail CSK's chase, before shelling a sitter from MS Dhoni in the end overs. The drop did not cost Cobras much - Dhoni exited soon after without doing much damage - but it was the first sign of panic in their camp. Bravo sensed the opening and bulldozed his way through to victory. Duminy will want to shut out all escape routes against Mumbai Indians, coincidentally his one-time IPL side.
With the exception of Ambati Rayudu, the MI top-order contributed a handsome 21 in the game against T&T, including two ducks. They can only pray for a revival on Friday. T Suman might be shunted down the order, in which case Rayudu could open the innings. The team management hasn't yet named a replacement for Jacobs, which means Rayudu will continue to keep wicket.
The Cobras didn't do much wrong against the Super Kings, and will want to stick with their combination. Steyn may not be too keen to bowl in the slog overs, though.
Stats and trivia
- With four wickets apiece, JP Duminy and Vernon Philander are currently Cobras' highest wicket-takers in the tournament
- Lasith Malinga has been Mumbai Indians' best bowler with three wickets at 17.00. He has also been their highest run-getter with 52
"We hope Malinga doesn't have to do it with the bat again."
Ambati Rayudu hopes the top-order gets the runs for Mumbai Indians
"I guess it was just my day. I pitched the ball in the right areas and they hit it to the fielders. I'll take the credit for that."
JP Duminy underplays his bowling skills
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo