A battle of the big-hitters
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Start time 1430 (1030 GMT, 1600 IST)
As two of the most glamorous sides in the IPL, the focus of the match between Mumbai and Bangalore will invariably be on the middle-order axis in both sides - Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson, and Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
Mumbai, though, have a unique problem on their hands of deciding where they want their big batsmen to bat. Michael Hussey's innings could be an aberration, but there will be some debate on whether Pollard's position in the batting order needs to be more flexible, especially in a tall chase. If they do that, it will leave Corey Anderson as a buffer between the batting and the tail. The manner in which the top-order struggled to get the innings moving along after Hussey's scratchy innings would leave Bangalore's pacers believing they can choke the side.
There are kinks for Bangalore, too. Ashok Dinda's T20 league has started from where it ended last year and as impressive as the bowling was in restricting Delhi to a below-par score, their profligacy with wides was a glaring problem. Chris Gayle's availability is also in doubt.
The match will also be the first of the tournament to be held in Dubai. The last T20 match at the ground saw Sri Lanka smash 211 and Pakistan responded with 187. Given the firepower in both line-ups, even without the prospect of Gayle, the Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer.
Players to watch
One of the things Varun Aaron is certain of is that he is unlikely to cut down on his pace anytime soon to prevent injuries. His statement to that effect came after the match against Delhi where he finished with 1 for 9 and troubled the batsmen with sharp speed. His pace, and more importantly, a more disciplined line, will help Bangalore rein in Mumbai's flamboyant top-order.
Just when he looked like he was settling at the crease, Rohit Sharma tried to clear the boundary and was out caught in the deep. At the start of the over in which he was out, Mumbai needed 69 off 30 and his presence at the crease would no doubt have helped the chase along. He quickly needs to find his feet in a role not unlike the one Virat Kohli essayed for Bangalore in their first game
Stats and trivia
- Mumbai have had the better of Bangalore in seven times in 13 encounters.
- Ambati Rayudu is the leading run-getter for Mumbai against Bangalore. In 11 games he has 298 runs with two fifties. Chris Gayle has 292 runs against Mumbai in six games at an average of 73 and a strike rate of 143.13.
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo