God willing, I am retiring. One of India’s greatest white ball spinners, Harbhajan Singh, exhaled a breath of relief when he spoke casually with journalists the other night (on May 9) following the final match at the Wankhede. Mumbai Indians had just saunter-danced to a target of 200 in the space of roughly 16 overs. Against bowlers of the level of Josh Hazlewood, Mohammed Siraj, Wanindu Hasaranga, and Harshal Patel, that was a fast chase.
It is obvious that the playing field and bowling surface conditions have made life challenging for the bowlers. This IPL season, 200-run totals have become the standard everywhere, and the Wankhede has been no exception. The last three matches at the venue saw chases of over 200-run targets; MI finished at 201 for six while pursuing a goal of 215 on April 22 and knocked off 213 against Rajasthan Royals on April 30.
The pitch at the stadium has turned into a belter, which is a bowler’s worst nightmare. Harbhajan once described such fields as motorways. Run-fests have been the norm throughout, and it’s doubtful that things will change on Friday night when the Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Titans, two dominant teams with some batsmen in form, square off.
It is crucial to use fresh batters. When asked how to stop the flow of runs, Mumbai pacer Jason Behrendorff responded, “We try to bowl beyond their hitting arcs, make the batters hit in our areas. Kumar Kathikeya, a teammate, added: “T20 is a batters game. Today’s batters can swing in all directions, so it’s critical for bowlers to concentrate on the fundamentals. Simply put, we strive to manage the run rate.
The Titans’ team’s director of cricket, Vikram Solanki, concurred. He retorted, “Take wickets,” in response to the batters who were on the offensive. “The bowlers have it hard. The batsmen are going above and above. Also, since it’s the biggest tournament, they ought to participate. The bowlers also react in some way. They are formulating strategies for control through their own means. But this year has been difficult. The impact player rule has resulted in longer batting lineups.
“The bowlers do manage to exert some control. That may differ significantly from one bowler to the next. But we tend to think in terms of trying to be as aggressive as we can. Taking wickets is the best approach to limit the run rate, according to Solanki. “Our team is incredibly knowledgeable, and Mohammed Shami is doing a great job of leading it. He serves as an example for everyone else.
Another large score of over 200 and an equally valiant chase are anticipated thanks to the power hitters on both sides, including Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Cameron Green, Tim David, Tilak Varma, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar, and Rahul Tewatia.
However, a specific Rohit Sharma may be the main subject of attention. Mumbai Indians’ prospects of moving on to the next round will be improved by their captain, who has struggled in IPL (only 191 runs in 11 games). The five-time champions are able to escape difficult chases when Suryakumar is present, but the squad cannot constantly rely on the batsman who in the previous game made a mockery of a 200-run chase. The game is more significant for the home team (12 from 11 games) than the visitors (16 from 11 games), thus the captain needs to arrive before it’s too late.
When: May 12 at 7:30 PM IST
Where: Mumbai’s Wakhede Stadium
The Wankhede is what to expect. But given how excellent Rashid and Noor are, anticipate another run-fest.
Head to Head: The two teams have only faced off twice: in Brabourne in 2022, MI prevailed by a score of five runs, and in Ahmedabad in 2023, GT triumphed by a score of 55 runs. Although the present game is tied at a draw, these teams have never met at the Wankhede. Rashid and the batsmen are going to have a great match here.
Tactics & Matchups: Rohit Sharma has scored a total of 12 runs during his past five innings (2,3,0,0,7). The same can be said for Gujarat, where he has a poor record. He had three dismissals in 21 balls against Rashid and only 23 runs. If he really makes it till Rashid enters the field, that is, as his match-up against Shami isn’t terrific either (57 off 51 balls with two dismissals). Ishan Kishan has scored 42 runs off of 45 balls for a strike rate of 93.33, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t struggle. Shami has never dismissed him.
Mumbai Indians: Tilak Varma, a batting stalwart for MI, could make the starting lineup. The hitter from Hyderabad had been out of the last two matches. There won’t likely be any other side changes.
Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav, Tim David, Nehal Wadhera, Tilak Varma, Chris Jordan, Piyush Chawla, Kumar Kartikeya, and Jason Behrendorff make up the starting XI.
Gujarat Titans: A dependable team, the Titans tended to favor consistency over change. On the eve of the game, there have been no indications of any alterations, thus any changes to the starting XI will only need to be forced rather than experimental.
Wriddhiman Saha (w), Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya (c), Vijay Shankar, David Miller, Abhinav Manohar, Rahul Tewatia, Rashid Khan, Mohit Sharma, Noor Ahmad, and Mohammed Shami make up the starting XI.