Mumbai: Table-toppers Gujarat Titans would look to plug the holes in their top-order and seal a place in the play-offs by returning to winning ways against an already out-of-contention Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League match here on Friday.
GT got a timely wake-up call in an eight-wicket loss to Punjab Kings in their last match, which snapped their five-game winning streak.
An inconsistent batting department, especially top-order has been GT’s thorn in the flesh throughout the tournament so far and it’s time the IPL newcomers fix the issue going into the business end of the league.
Despite the loss, GT are sitting pretty at the top of the 10-team standings with 16 points from 10 games and a win on Friday would make them the first team to cement their spot in the play-offs.
Young Shubman Gill has failed to live up to expectations at the top, while veteran Wriddhiman Saha, who was a great replacement for struggling Matthew Wade, got a start before fizzling out.
B Sai Sudharsan, who has been the team’s weak link so far, was the only saving grace for GT in their last match, where everyone failed, scoring a 50-ball 65.
The likes of skipper Hardik Pandya, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia and Rashid Khan, who had produced stellar performances and played a key role in GT’s success so far, have floundered against Punjab.
But the quartet would be very well aware about their importance in the side and look to rise to the occasion to make a comeback, in what has been a remarkable opening season.
Hardik, who has been GT’s batting mainstay with 309 runs — the highest among all in the team, has had two rare back-to-back failures and would be desperate to get his mojo back.
Miller and the six-hitting duo of Tewatia and Rashid too would be itching to prove their worth after a rare failure.
In Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Alzzari Joseph and Rashid, Gujarat have one of the most lethal attacks in this year’s IPL.
Despite going for runs in the last match, Shami is a class act with the new ball, while Ferguson’s ability to generate extra pace is a cause of concern for any batting line-up.
Rashid has been economical with the ball, but his inability to pick up wickets would be a cause of concern for the side.
MI, on the other hand, are placed last and are already out of the tournament after registering eight consecutive defeats.
But the Rohit Sharma-led side would heave a sigh of relief after finally registering their first win of the tournament, a five-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals.
Suryakumar Yadav has been the star for MI in the batting department, which lacks cohesive effort.
Rohit and Ishan Kishan’s terrible run at the top continued, while Kieron Pollard failed miserably to perform the role of a finisher till now in the season.
On the bowling front too, MI looked nowhere near to his best.
Jasprit Bumrah has been economical upfront but has not been among wickets which has hurt the team most.
Daniel Sams and Riley Meredith have been patchy and barring Bumrah, MI doesn’t have another quality bowler to rely upon.
But having returned to winning ways, MI would look to play party spoilers in their remaining games.
Match starts at 7.30 PM. —PTI