1) Dinesh Karthik needs to regain form
The dazzling wicketkeeper batsman started the tournament in an emphatic fashion but as the cash-rich league approached its business end, he has gone off the track a bit.
While he is still Mumbai Indians’ second highest run-getter this season with 467 runs, 224 of them were scored in the first four matches. In the last 13 games, he has managed only 243 runs.
After smashing his second half-century in just the third game, the Tamil Nadu batsman has failed to add another one to the tally in the next 14 matches. For MI to put up a good score, Karthik needs to find form soon as number three is the most crucial position in the batting order, irrespective of the format.
2) Identify your third seamer
Mumbai Indians seemed to have struggled to get their choice of third seamer right after Dhawal Kulkarni, who claimed eight wickets in six matches, picked up an injury in the game against Kings XI Punjab on May 18.
The injury came at the wrong time for the Mumbai medium-pacer, which forced MI to field Munaf Patel, who was playing only his fourth match of the season. In the first Qualifier, Munaf conceded 32 runs in just three overs without taking a wicket.
In four matches, Munaf has managed to claim only three wickets at an economy rate of just over nine. In a do-or-die game today, MI need to figure out who their third seamer is. In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad option to add a third spinner, who would be helpful on a sluggish Eden Gardens track.
3) Bowlers must back Mitchell Johnson
Mitchell Johnson has been a revelation for Mumbai Indians. He has been Rohit Sharma’s go-to man and seldom has he disappointed. Be it making early inroads or bowling miserly at the death, Johnson has always risen to the occasion.
But whenever he failed to fire, MI bowlers seemed to be lost in the woods. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the league stage and versus Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday, MI let the opposition score more than 175.
Hyderabad, the team which never relied on their fickle batting, milked MI bowlers as Johnson struggled. It is time others to pull up their socks in case Johnson fails to deliver today.
4) Exploit RR’s lack of spinning options
Unfortunately for Rajasthan Royals, they will not have the services of Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan at their disposal as the duo is behind bars. There is no doubt that Rahul Dravid will miss them on the slow Eden Gardens track.
In the last game, RR did not have a single spinner in their team and in their last league game, part-timer Brad Hodge rolled his arm over. Kieron Pollard & Co must exploit the dearth of specialist spinners in the opposition camp and utilise the pace of their quickies.
5) Harbhajan, Ojha must fire
Eden Gardens has been a sluggish track to bat this season. We saw KKR’s Jacques Kallis and Lakshmipathy Balaji bowling off-cutters virtually every second delivery.
Sunil Narine, thrived on that wicket (not that he did not on other pitches) as it aided the slower bowlers. On such a track, onus will be on Pragyan Ojha and Harbhajan Singh not just to contain runs but to pick wickets as well. The slow cutters of Kieron Pollard could also come in handy as the ball does not come on to the bat.