Victory vital for mismatched teams
Thursday, September 16
Start time 1730 (1530 GMT)
Top seeds are expected to breeze into the second week of Grand Slams, but the combined wattage of Mumbai Indians' stars is struggling to keep their campaign glowing five days into the Champions League Twenty20.
On paper, their clash against Guyana should be one of the biggest mismatches of the tournament. On the one side, a line-up littered with the most valuable players in Twenty20 cricket and complemented by a bunch of the most consistent domestic batsmen of IPL 2010; on the other, a bunch of little-knowns whose most recognised batsmen, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Narsingh Deonarine, pushed themselves to No. 8 and below in a crunch Twenty20 game against the more favoured Trinidad & Tobago (a strategy which, however, proved successful).
Two Trinidad & Tobago men playing for Mumbai here, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, learnt in that game that entering the match as heavy favourites doesn't have any effect on the end result. The rest of Sachin Tendulkar's side also discovered that after slipping up against the low-profile Lions on the opening day. Bravo maintained T&T are the best Twenty20 team in the region despite that loss to Guyana, and will be craving a victory over his bitter Caribbean rivals.
The worry for Guyana is their bowling attack, bereft of pace and heavily reliant on spinners. The slow bowlers are likely to have a tough time against Mumbai's brutal hitters, who caned South Australia's spin pair of Aaron O'Brien and Cullen Bailey for 79 runs in seven overs on Wednesday.
Neither team can afford defeat on Friday: for Mumbai it will certainly be curtains, while Guyana will be left with a slim mathematical chance of qualifying, especially after the battering their net run-rate took against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
It will be interesting to see what changes Mumbai make to their XI. As far as overseas players are concerned, the only option is to swap JP Duminy for Ryan McLaren. Among the Indians, Abhishek Nayar is perhaps the best player on the bench but his chances of getting a game diminish due to the presence of two other quick-bowling allrounders in Bravo and Pollard. They may also toy with the idea of bringing in R Sathish, if for nothing else, at least to improve the appalling fielding standards.
Mumbai Indians 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Sachin Tendulkar (capt), 3 Ambati Rayudu (wk), 4 Saurabh Tiwary, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 JP Duminy/Ryan McLaren, 8 Ali Murtaza, 9 Harbhajan Singh, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Lasith Malinga
Guyana are likely to go in with the same side that lost to Bangalore, mainly because the four players who were left out have the combined experience of two Twenty20 matches.
Guyana 1 Travis Dowlin, 2 Sewnarine Chattergoon, 3 Ramnaresh Sarwan (capt), 4 Narsingh Deonarine, 5 Christopher Barnwell, 6 Royston Crandon, 7 Jonathan Foo, 8 Lennox Cush, 9 Esuan Crandon, 10 Derwin Christian (wk), 11 Devendra Bishoo
Watch out for ...
Dwayne Bravo was outstanding coming in to bat late in the innings against South Australia, blitzing a 12-ball 22 to propel Mumbai to what seemed a winning score. He'll need to up his game with the ball, though, havinng leaked 46 in four.
Like the rest of the Guyana team, opener Travis Dowlin didn't have the best of times in the opening match against Bangalore. He needs to recapture the steady form of the Caribbean T20, where his two half-centuries were pivotal to Guyana's run to the title.
Key contestsKieron Pollard v Jonathan Foo: The battle within the T&T v Guyana grudge match will pit Pollard against the youngster many believed would reprise his heroics from last year's Champions League. Foo did not make an impact in his opening game, but one failure hardly counts in this format. Can he make a name for himself here? Will Pollard stop him in the tracks?
Stats and trivia
- With a quarter of the year still remaining, Pollard has already played an eye-popping 53 Twenty20s in 2010. In 2009, Tillakaratne Dilshan played the most Twenty20s, a comparatively paltry 37
- Pollard is also the leading wicket-taker this year (60), fourth highest run-scorer (1004) and fourth in number of catches held (21)
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.