Bangalore: The Mumbai Indians side will have a lot to prove when they take the field against the Cape Cobras in a Champions League T20 encounter on Friday, even as a win will all but assure the Indian Premier League side of a place in the semi-finals.
Mumbai skipper Harbhajan Singh will be smarting after being dropped from the India squad for the ODIs against England. In fact, his entire team is yet to fire in this tournament despite having won both their games in the group stages so far. There is a general feeling that luck has played a big part as both victories were pulled off from improbable situations, with Mumbai reaching the target score in the final two deliveries in both matches.
The man who has been instrumental in putting Mumbai in this strong position of four points from two games is Lasith Malinga - Not with the ball, though, but rather with the bat! The Sri Lankan fast bowler tops the Mumbai Indians' batting chart, with 52 runs in two games, including an unbeaten 37 that shocked the Chennai Super Kings in their first game. And that just says it all as far as the form of the Mumbai batsman is concerned. Big-hitters like Kieron Pollard and Andrew Symonds are yet to live up to their reputations, while the injury-hit Mumbai side will also be hoping for more runs from the likes of Aiden Blizzard, T Suman and Ambati Rayudu, to make up for their disastrous performance against Trinidad and Tobago.
A win will all but assure top-of-the-group Mumbai of a place in the semi-finals.
The bowling has done far better after conceding 158 runs against CSK, restricting T&T to just 98 before the batsmen made a mess of chasing down that paltry total. Malinga will expectedly lead the attack again, even as all eyes will be on Harbhajan. Medium pacer Abu Nechim has also done well, picking up three wickets so far.
The Cape Cobras come into this match on the back of a dispiriting four-wicket defeat to Chennai. Although they won their first game against New South Wales Blues, the tight nature of the group means anything but a win on Friday will put their chances of making it to the last-four in jeopardy.
The Justin Kemp-led side will once again depend on Dale Steyn to provide the early breakthroughs, even though it was the South African fast bowler who conceded 17 runs in the penultimate over against CSK that eventually helped the home side chase down the required 146. Steyn will be supported by pacer Vernon Philander, spinner Robin Peterson and death-overs specialist Charl Langeveldt.
As far as the batting is concerned, the Cobras will look to Herschelle Gibbs, Richard Levi, Owais Shah and JP Duminy to put the runs on the board.
Mumbai have the momentum and will be expecting their batsmen to fire as they aim to seal their qualification from Group A, while the strong Cape Cobras side will hope to bounce back to keep themselves in content_cnion. It promises to be a fiery encounter in Bangalore as the business end of the tournament approaches.
Cape Cobras: JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Justin Kemp (c), Rory Kleinveldt, Charl Langeveldt, Richard Levi, Johann Louw, Justin Ontong, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Andrew Puttick, Michael Rippon, Owais Shah, Dale Steyn, Dane Vilas
Mumbai Indians: Harbhajan Singh (c), Abu Nechim, Aiden Blizzard, Yuzvendra Chahal, Dilhara Fernando, James Franklin, Davy Jacobs, Sarul Kanwar, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Rajagopal Sathish, T Suman, Andrew Symonds