After a crushing defeat against Delhi Daredevils on Friday, Mumbai Indians now face a rejuvenated Deccan Chargers in their Indian Premier League clash at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. The Harbhajan Singh-led team has nothing going its way with the captain under fire. The offspinner is not only out of form (just one wicket form eight matches), but has also failed to lead his team with propriety. He himself is guilty of forcing the on-field umpires to refer to the third umpire against Deccan in their last match and did nothing when Munaf Patel unnecessarily got into a verbal duel with the Kings XI Punjab players last Sunday. To cap it all, the team’s performance is also waxing and waning with four wins and four losses.
Clearly, these are hard times for the team. Though Sachin Tendulkar has returned from a finger injury, it's amply clear that he needs more time to get back into his zone. Still Mumbai don't have a lack of resources – they have got everything needed to make up a top team. Their bating comprises Aiden Blizzard, Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard and Robin Peterson, all proven performers. Then Lasith Malinga leads their bowling, with Munaf, RP Singh, Harbhajan and Pollard providing able support.
Clearly, it's not the lack of resources that plagues them, it's the lack of confidence. So Harbhajan has to rack his brains as to why his team is off the boil despite a strong squad. As for their eleven for Sunday's match, there is one change on the cards. A rested Munaf is likely to return, and Rahul Shukla has to make way for him.
Meanwhile, Deccan registered their first win in their last match against Pune Warriors India, and from here on they won't be the same tame opposition, for sure. No doubt Deccan is one of the weakest teams in the fray this season, but if skipper Kumar Sangakkara can make the most of whatever resources he has got, a turnaround is not far off. If Sangakkara, Cameron White, JP Duminy and Daniel Christian play to their potential, Deccan can be a handful. And then there is Dale Steyn, on whom there is a consensus among batsmen and experts that he is the most difficult bowler to score off. However, the South African fast bowler, who was rested for Deccan’s last match, may not make it back to the team, for no team wants to disturb its winning composition. Also, Rusty Theron, who replaced Steyn in the win against Pune, did more than enough to deserve another opportunity. But still it will be hard to keep Steyn out and the decision will be a tough one for the team management.
All Deccan need is the self-belief that they can win against the best. With five defeats in seven matches, other than the washout against Kolkata Knight Riders, their chances of a last-four finish are really bleak, but with nine matches in hand, a turnaround is not out of the question yet. When is all said and done, Mumbai go into the match as favourites but taking Deccan for a lost cause can hurt them big time.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Aiden Blizzard, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5 Ambati Rayudu, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Robin Peterson, 8 Harbhajan Singh (capt), 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 RP Singh, 11 Munaf Patel
Deccan Chargers: 1 Kumar Sangakkara (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Parthiv Patel (wk), 4 Cameron White, 5 Jean-Paul Duminy, 6 Ishank Jaggi, 7 Ankit Sharma, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Rusty Theron/Dale Steyn, 10 Anand Rajan, 11 Ashish Reddy