Photo credit: BCCI.
Mumbai Indians' title-defence slipped further after the defeat against Chennai Super Kings, and now, with just 2 wins in 8 matches, the defending champions find themselves in must-win territory against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Match 36 of IPL 7 at Hyderabad on Monday.
Mumbai registered comprehensive successive wins over Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore in their first two homes matches of the season at the Wankhede Stadium, but they faltered against Chennai at home on Saturday. Hyderabad, on the other hand, seem to have found their mojo as they have bounced back to win 4 matches out of the 8 they have played so far.
Since their IPL debut last year, Hyderabad have been a difficult team to beat at home; and after their win against Delhi Daredevils in a rain-marred match on Saturday, they have sprung back to life this season.
However, batting remains a major concern for SRH, with skipper Shikhar Dhawan still scratching around at the top and the Aussie recruits David Warner and Aaron Finch giving only flash-in-the-pan performances so far. Naman Ojha, however, lifted the team's spirits against Delhi, hitting 13* in 3 balls to reach the revised target of 43 in 5 overs against Delhi.
But the bowling attack looks well settled - handled by Dale Steyn, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra and Karn Sharma. Bhuvneshwar, leading the bowling charts with 15 wickets in 8 matches, has formed a very effective pair with Steyn at the top - though legspinners Mishra and Karn are yet to take wickets on a consistent basis.
For Mumbai, Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard have made a welcome return to form, and Ambati Rayudu's 43-ball 59 against Chennai on Saturday must have been a boost for Mumbai's otherwise average batting performance this year.
Opener CM Gautam has impressed with his stroke-play but needs to convert his starts into big innings. On the other hand, key players like Corey Anderson and Aditya Tare have to lift their performances with the tournament moving towards the business end.
Mumbai have definitely been hurt by the injury to Zaheer Khan, who has been ruled out of rest of the season, but they have found an able replacement in swing bowler Praveen Kumar, who did fine with figures of 2 for 31 in his first match of the season against Chennai. But Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh remain pivotal to the team's wicket-taking chances while carrying the attack on their shoulders.