Confident Gujarat Lions takes on Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians will be in a dilemma about whether to stick to the combination that worked in Kolkata mid-week or bring in Martin Guptill, who had his first batting stint in MI blues after coming in as a replacement for Lendl Simmons.

Aaron Finch, playing for his sixth IPL team, has scored two blistering fifties.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Barring the title of the team, Mumbai Indians don’t have much in common with Mumbai cricket. But on the eve of their second home game in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League, perhaps inadvertently, they seemed to have taken a leaf out of the magnificent tradition of Mumbai cricket.

While the batting group of Mumbai Indians was not even to be seen at the Wankhede Stadium, for a good one-hour at the start of the training, all the bowlers padded up and had a stint in the nets. That used to be the tradition of the golden generation of Mumbai cricket where bowlers would begin the net session with a go with the bat.

Come Saturday, however, and the bowlers would be hoping to deliver with their primary skill rather than showcasing their big-hitting abilities with the willow (remember Mitchell McClenaghan’s cameo in Kolkata on Wednesday) during Mumbai Indians’ maiden encounter against Gujarat Lions.

The Lions have started their debut season in IPL on a high, thanks to their power-hitting batsmen. Aaron Finch, playing for his sixth IPL team, has scored two blistering fifties while the likes of Brendon McCullum, captain Suresh Raina and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo have made short work of 160-plus targets in both their games with at least two overs to spare.

The Mumbai Indians bowlers, naturally, have their task cut out, especially on the back of having failed to restrict the opposition onslaught so far in the tournament. Lasith Malinga has joined the squad, but he didn’t turn up for training. The big hole created in the Mumbai Indians’ bowling side with the slinging bowler’s absence due to a knee injury, which will be assessed in the coming week, is yet to be filled. The home team will be hoping for Jasprit Bumrah to land his yorkers against the team from his home state.

Mumbai Indians will be in a dilemma about whether to stick to the combination that worked in Kolkata mid-week or bring in Martin Guptill, who had his first batting stint in MI blues after coming in as a replacement for Lendl Simmons. If Guptill has to come in, Tim Southee and Parthiv Patel may have to make way for him. It would also mean R. Vinay Kumar will return into the equation to make up for a bowler’s absence.

For Gujarat Lions, despite winning both their games, the key decision would be whether to stick to the three-spinner theory that worked well in Rajkot on Friday. Ravindra Jadeja, who played a decisive role on Friday, has not travelled with the squad since he is getting married. It may result in unknown chinaman Shivil Kaushik making his IPL debut on Saturday.