Get the right team out, play to the best of your abilities and make sure you pick up a win, no matter what – that will be the Mumbai Indians mantra when they play the Gujarat Lions in Kanpur on Saturday. Having gone through a see-saw season, MI can as good as assure their place in the final-four by beating the Gujarat Lions.
While a win will not guarantee them a place in the playoffs – and a loss will not definitively push them out of the running either – the Mumbai Indians can put themselves in a real position of strength by getting the two points against Gujarat Lions.
To do that, picking the right playing XI will be essential, something the Mumbai Indians have fumbled at, at times, this season.
Hardik Pandya, after being left out of the last few games for MI, will want to make a case for himself to be brought in for this crunch tie. Hardik, whose older brother Krunal has been one of the finds of the season, could come in for either Nitish Rana or R Vinay Kumar, if Rohit Sharma and Ricky Ponting feels there are enough bowling options in the team to leave out the Karnataka paceman.
Martin Guptill pretty much ensured he would get another game at the top of the order with a decent 48 in the last game, a comprehensive win over the Delhi Daredevils, which means Tim Southee, unfortunately, and Parthiv Patel will miss out.
The Mumbai Indians have the firepower to beat any side in IPL 2016, but they have been just too inconsistent this season. Hoping it will be the wrong part of that inconsistency that comes out of MI will be the Gujarat Lions, who will want to make sure they are in the playoffs for this season, and with it the top two as well, with a victory over MI.
With their overseas players – Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and Dwayne Bravo – locked in, and Suresh Raina back after paternity leave, when he led GL to an emphatic victory over KKR, there really is no need to change the combination.
Expected playing XI: Gujarat Lions: Brendon McCullum , Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina (C), Dinesh Karthik, Aaron Finch, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Eklavya Dwivedi, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shadab Jakati.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Martin Guptill, Ambati Rayudu, Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, R Vinay Kumar, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah.