The fact that the last league match of a tournament will decide which team earns a play-off spot is a clear indicator of how closely the contest has been fought. So, will be the case in the last match of Indian Premier League season 8, to be played between Surnisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad. Both teams have 14 points from 13 games. Can it get any closer? The equation for the sides in the match is pretty straightforward. Win and progress, or lose and go back.
Match: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Mumbai Indians 56th T20 at Hyderabad
Time: Match begins at 8 PM IST | 14:30 GMT
Toss: Sunrisers Hyderabad, who chose to bat first
Hyderabad have been in good form lately having found a number of good performances from players other than David Warner. But, they were unlucky in their previous match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, as rain played spoilsport. They batted exceedingly well to reach 135 for 1 in 11 overs courtesy half-centuries from skipper Warner and Moises Henriques. But, further rain meant Bangalore only had to face six overs, and get 81, which they did with nonchalant ease. Mumbai, on the other hand, go into the game having somehow restricted Kolkata Knight Riders, in a last-over thriller. That victory will serve as a morale booster.
Hyderabad should put behind the disappointment of the Bangalore match behind them, and start afresh. Warner has continued to be the team’s top performer, and batted with sizzle against Bangalore as well. Henriqeus too continued his great form against RCB with a hard-hitting knock. Among others Shikhar Dhawan has consistently provided great support to Warner. England skipper Eoin Morgan has also improved his batting effort in recent times. The Hyderabad middle-order now looks a lot more settled than it was in the first half of the tournament.
Hyderabad’s bowling is among the most potent ones in the IPL this season. In Dale Steyn and Trent Boult, they have two high-quality fast bowlers, but it has been the Kumars who have been more impressive. Bhuvneshwar may have given a lot of runs against Bangalore, but that was a one-off. Praveen has remained tidy.
Mumbai’s performances have been inconsistent this season, but the close victory against Kolkata was a much-needed one. Kieron Pollard came up with a brilliant bowling effort to keep Mumbai in alive in the race for the play-offs. But, the most critical effort came from Hardik Pandya, who smashed 61 not out from 31 balls. This was the second time Pandya had made a match-changing contribution.
Mumbai have a number of match winners in both the batting, and bowling department, and they will have to stand up in the do-or-die clash against Hyderabad. Opener Lendl Simmons has been in good form for them, and skipper Rohit Sharma will also be keen to impress. While Pollard starred with the ball in the last match, quick runs from him can benefit the team greatly. Then, of course, they have two quality bowlers in Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh.
--By A Cricket Analyst