Mumbai Indians look to win their fifth game of IPL-9 as Rohit Sharma’s men take on depleted Rising Pune Supergiants in Maharashtra derby at Pune today
Pune: Over the years, Rohit Sharma has proven to be one of the finest opening batsmen in the shorter format of the game. His record for Mumbai Indians in the IPL is better than most of the batters in the competition.
MI skipper Rohit Sharma (centre) congratulates Hardik Pandya after the fall of a KKR wicket at Wankhede on Thursday. Pic/Suresh Kaekera
The Mumbai Indians skipper has already scored four half centuries at an average of 49.66 so far this season. And Rohit, who turned 29 on Saturday, would be keen to continue that rich form against an erratic and unsettled Rising Pune Supergiants bowling attack at the MCA Stadium here today.
Going by form, Mumbai Indians are clear favourites against the hosts, who have struggled to find the right combination with the ball throughout the first half of the season. Their bowling in the Powerplay overs has been a big concern. They have conceded 72 runs against Gujarat Lions, 59 against Kolkata Knight Riders and 48 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first six overs at this venue so far. Supergiants’ head coach Stephen Fleming has been publically critical of his team’s bowling in the Powerplay, especially in the first two home games, where conditions were not easy for batting.
Steve Smith, who scored a century for Supergiants in a losing cause on Friday, explained the reasons behind the team’s below par performance in the first six overs. “Instead of bowling patiently, our bowlers tried to chop and change too much,” he said after the game against Gujarat Lions. Skipper MS Dhoni has tried every available option inside the Powerplay, but none have worked on a consistent basis. And that’s one area the likes of Rohit, Parthiv Patel, Ambati Rayudu can exploit. Patel too has shown good form with the bat, and the left-hand right-hand combination at the top can add more problems to the already struggling Supergiants bowling unit.
The hosts, in comparison, have been in a pretty decent batting form. Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith have batted well in the past two games. Rahane, in particular, has been superb at home, scoring a half century in each of the three games played here. Dhoni, Thisara Perera have provided the team the kind of finishes they are expected of.
The last two times these sides met, Supergiants ran away comfortable winners at the Wankhede Stadium. Things have changed a lot since then though. Mumbai Indians have won four of the next seven games, while Supergiants have managed to win just one more after the tournament opener. The pressure is definitely on Supergiants because, as Steve Smith said on Friday night, they got to win “most of the remaining games”.
It’s the last home game for Supergiants before they as well as Mumbai Indians shift to their adopted home of Vazag for the rest of the season. And it’s their last chance to give the home fans something to cheer for, something they haven’t been able to do even once this season.