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April 23, 2011
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
It's Sachin Tendulkar's 38th birthday and he returns to the venue where he played the best ODI innings of 2009. That epic 175 against Australia resulted in defeat, a depressing addition to the list of Tendulkar masterclasses that went in vain. That night, the crowd returned home numbed by India's brain-freeze in the end overs, wondering if they were destined to never see their team winning. The Uppal jinx was finally broken by Deccan Chargers when they beat Bangalore on April 14 - their first home win in four editions. Will their fans want that streak to continue, at the cost of denying India's biggest icon victory on his birthday?
Mumbai are coming off three easy wins, one shock defeat and one hard-fought victory. They have looked the most complete side in the tournament, and their star power has allowed them to carry a couple of passengers in almost every game. Their fielding effort against Chennai Super Kings must rank among the best ever put up by an IPL outfit. Not too many cover-drives can find a way past a cordon that includes Andrew Symonds, Kieron Pollard, Rohit Sharma and R Sathish. The batting has been consistent, and the bowling is shaking off its dependence on Lasith Malinga.
After a sluggish start, Deccan have managed two wins in three games, and will go into the game quietly confident of an upset. Their methods have been in complete contrast to Mumbai's: lesser-knowns like Bharat Chipli and Sunny Sohal have provided the spark, while the bigger signings have remained in the background. They will need to be at their best to put it past Mumbai.
Form guide (most recent first)
Who will open Mumbai's innings with Tendulkar? Do they just draw lots before the toss? So far Davy Jacobs, James Franklin and R Sathish have been tried. Given how poor Franklin and Sathish were, Jacobs might fancy his chances of coming back into the XI. Deccan clicked like a cohesive unit against Delhi, and may want to retain that combination.
Predict the playing XIs for this match. Play ESPNcricinfo Team selector.
In the spotlight
Some say it was a speed-gun conspiracy, but Ishant Sharma has clocked upwards of 150 kph on a few occasions in this IPL. The last time he managed such pace was in 2008 when he bullied Ricky Ponting with a delightful spell of seam bowling in Perth. Ishant's faltered, fizzled and settled into a lesser role in recent times, but there is still hope for resurgence.
Rohit Sharma played a gem against Chennai. It was the kind of innings that left his critics infuriated, since it once again highlighted the contrast between his international career and his IPL exploits. His feet move better, his shot selection is sharper and he just seems switched on when he's playing this tournament. Will Rohit have another bounty season? And this time, will he carry on from there to bigger things?
"Unbelievable fielding. Brillant catches. Superb ground-fielding. I thought the fielders created opportunities today."
Sachin Tendulkar rates Mumbai's fielding effort against Chennai was the best he had ever seen in the IPL
Stats highlights from the first day of the second Test between Australia and India in Brisbane