A win at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday will ensure a top-two finish in the league stage for Gujarat Titans, whereas for Mumbai Indians, it’s a must-win game in a bid to stay in the hunt for the Indian Premier League playoffs.
From reeling at the eighth spot on the points table, Mumbai Indians has moved into the top-four after chasing down 200 runs inside 17 overs against Royal Challengers Bangalore in its last game. Featuring in yet another home fixture, MI will be wary of a slip-up.
Though the Titans are in a comfortable position, the team management does not want to take things easy. “It’s a contest between two very strong sides… I don’t think we can take anything for granted. You’ve seen at times when you think the game’s wrapped up, there have been twists in the tale and it has happened on a number of occasions. It would be ill-advised to take opponents for granted,” Titans’ director of cricket Vikram Solanki said.
With Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan - the joint highest-wicket takers in the tournament so far with 19 scalps each, along with Tushar Deshpande - at the helm, Titans have a lethal bowling attack. Shami has been effective with the new ball, whereas Rashid and his compatriot Noor Ahmad, have been Titans’ go-to-men for breakthroughs in the middle-overs.
However, Mumbai Indians has gone past 200-plus totals in three out of its last four games, and it would be interesting to see how the Titans bowlers plan against the home team.
Suryakumar Yadav is back in his element and the five-time champion side has gained the momentum. Though captain Rohit Sharma’s struggling form has been a concern, the return of Tilak Varma will be a boost for the home team.
With Ishan Kishan, too, providing steady starts and the young Nehal Wadhera stamping his class against RCB, the Mumbai outfit does look strong on the batting front.
In its last home game against LSG, the Titans rode on openers Wriddhiman Saha and Shubman Gill to put up a 200-plus total. On Wankhede’s surface, which has aided the batters, expectations will be high from the duo. The two batted in the nets for long on Thursday evening, hoping to get back in shape after enjoying a short and much-deserved break.
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