Kanpur: Nothing but a win will keep their play-off hopes alive as defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Gujarat Lions in a do-or-die battle, which will be their final IPL league match, in Kanpur on Saturday.
With seven wins in 13 matches, Mumbai are currently placed fifth, tied on 14 points with Royal Challengers Bangalore (3rd) and Kolkata Knight Riders (4th) -- both having better net run-rate with one match to go.
A loss on Saturday will knock them out of the race for play-offs and Mumbai will hope to pull the rug from under the feet of the Lions this time after suffering a defeat during their home leg on April 16.
Gujarat, on the other hand, are at the second spot with 16 points from 13 matches and a victory will seal their play-off berth.
However, a slip-up will keep the door open for the other teams to sneak in at the last moment and the IPL debutantes will be eager to avoid any such situation after doing all the hard work this season.
Two-time champions, Mumbai have failed to build a winning momentum this season and all their victories have been mostly followed by losses.
A massive 80-run win against Delhi Daredevils in their last outing on May 15 has boosted Mumbai's confidence and they would want to carry on the momentum this time.
Mumbai have depended on captain Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu to score bulk of the runs this season though it was young all-rounder Krunal Pandhya's 37-ball 86 which did the trick for them in their last match.
Jos Buttler and Kieron Pollard will be the other batters who will look to step up and perform in tomorrow's match, which otherwise might turn out to be Mumbai's last appearance this season.
In bowling, seamer Mitchell McClenaghan have led the attack well with 17 wickets in 13 matches and remains the top wicket-taker this season. He has been supported well by Jasprit Bumrah with 14 scalps.
However, the performance of the spinners is a concern for Mumbai with Harbhajan Singh managing only 8 wickets so far, followed by Pandya with 6 scalps so far.
Gujarat, on the other hand, made a rampaging start to the season before facing a slump early this month but they have managed to bounce back in time with a win over Kolkata last night after an embarrassing 144-run loss against Bangalore.
The fact that skipper Suresh Raina guided the team home with an unbeaten 36-ball 53 will come as a huge relief for the team, which has some powerful hitters in Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch and Dwayne Smith.
In their bowling department, Gujarat have depended on seamers Bravo and Dhawal Kulkarni. Dwayne Smith's four-wicket haul against Delhi will also give their attack a huge boost ahead of tomorrow's clash.
Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Pravin Amre have not proved to be a threat and they too will look to make themselves count on Saturday.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Corey Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah, Jos Buttler, Unmukt Chand, Marchant de Lange, Shreyas Gopal, Martin Guptill, Harbhajan Singh, Kishore Kamath, Siddhesh Lad, Mitchell McClenaghan, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Kieron Pollard, Deepak Punia, Nitish Rana, Ambati Rayudu, Jitesh Sharma, Nathu Singh, Tim Southee, Jagadeesha Suchith, Jerome Taylor, Vinay Kumar, Akshay Wakhare.
Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (C), Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Dale Steyn, James Faulkner, Ishan Kishan, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik, Dwayne Bravo, Sarabjit Ladda, Amit Mishra, Akashdeep Nath, Paras Dogra, Eklavya Dwivedi, Shadab Jakati, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Umang Sharma, Pravin Tambe, Andrew Tye.
Match starts at 8pm IST
Published Date: May 21, 2016 10:54 am | Updated Date: May 21, 2016 10:58 am