Indians eye Titans scalp
Upbeat Mumbai faces IPL defending champion Gujarat in Qualifier 2
AHMEDABAD: Akash Madhwal’s breathtaking bowling performance against Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator would have given five-time IPL champion Mumbai Indians wings and it would be fancying its chances against defending champion Gujarat Titans in Qualifier 2 to be played in the world’s largest stadium here on Friday.
Mumbai Indians, riding on magical figures of five for five produced by Madhwal at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday night, knocked out LSG from the race to the final with an 81-run win.
The huge MI victory was a warning to the rivals that it could lift its game according to the occasion even in the absence of star pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer and batting mainstay Tilak Varma.
MI prides itself on thriving when the odds are stacked against it, something it has done throughout the season. Having finished last in the previous edition, Rohit Sharma’s team has ground it out this season to remain in contention for a sixth IPL title even with limited resources.
The likes of Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav and Tim David have responded well to the challenges and now form the backbone of the batting department with the young Nehal Wadhera too making a huge impact, and the opening pair of Rohit and Ishan Kishan doing a fair job.
It will be a stern test for the Titans’ bowling attack, led by Mohammad Shami (26 wickets in 15 matches), to get the better of MI’s batting, which has improved drastically towards the business end of the tournament.
Madhwal has been a revelation with the ball. The right-arm bowler returned a dream spell of 3.5-0-5-5 against LSG to put his side into the virtual semifinal after a three-wicket burst that set up victory in its crucial last league game against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Veterans Piyush Chawla (21 wickets in 15 matches) and Jason Behrendorff (14 wickets in 11 matches) have also been impressive, while an otherwise expensive Chris Jordan also enjoyed a fine outing of 2-1-7-1 in the Eliminator.
Gujarat Titans, outclassed and outgunned in Qualifier 1 by Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings, will have one last chance to gather itself up and put its best foot forward in familiar conditions here in order to qualify for its second IPL final on the trot.
It will be imperative for the defending champion that its batting clicks in unison, since Shubman Gill and Vijay Shankar have done bulk of the heavy lifting with the bat in the last few games. Gill might have had an off day against CSK but his two centuries in the closing stages of the league round make him the biggest threat for Mumbai Indians.
With 722 runs in 15 matches at an average of 55.53, including two centuries and four fifties, the India batter has 421 runs more than the second-best GT batter -- Shankar with 301 runs in 12 matches -- and is also just eight runs short of going past RCB’s Faf du Plessis to finish with most runs in this IPL.