Boss batters vs Boss bowlers as Mumbai take on Titans in Qualifier 2

Boss batters vs Boss bowlers as Mumbai take on Titans in Qualifier 2

Big picture: Defending champions vs Serial winners

For probably the first time in the franchise’s young history, Gujarat Titans will be feeling the pressure in a knockout game. Freshly jolted by a defeat in Qualifier 1, this is the first time they’re ever playing an IPL game to stay alive. The best team from the league stage didn’t really play like it against Chennai Super Kings to the point that it suddenly seems like they aren’t entirely sure of their best XI. Getting that wrong in the playoff stages usually proves expensive.
On the other hand, Mumbai Indians are peaking at the right time. They produced one of their most complete performances in the Eliminator to go with four wins in their last five games in the group stages. From the batting point of view, everyone has unlocked the most dangerous version of themselves, and among bowlers, Piyush Chawla and Jason Behrendorff are doing enough for Akash Madhwal to shine at the death.
Mumbai beat Titans the last time the two sides met in IPL 2023, and purely based on recent results and recent vibes, Mumbai would appear to have the edge. Their bowling unit has been red-hot of late but that wasn’t quite the case early on in the tournament. Titans on the other hand have proven performers with the ball, including the season’s top two wicket-takers. How Madhwal and co can match up to Mohammed Shami and Rashid Khan may well decide the outcome of this game.
Titans’ batting though, at least in the present moment, lacks the clarity their bowling has. They need to figure out if Dasun Shanaka is offering enough. And also do more to ensure Vijay Shankar bats when he can have the most impact. Most of all, they have to find a way for Hardik Pandya – the batter – to make the best use of his skills. If that clarity is there, Titans will feel that the Qualifier defeat was a mere blip on their journey towards defending their IPL title. It won’t come easy against a side that just knows how to win crunch games.

Gujarat Titans: LWWLW (last five completed games, most recent first)
Mumbai Indians: WWLWW

Team news: Worry for Titans seamers?

Titans played Darshan Nalkande against Super Kings for Yash Dayal, but Nalkande was hobbling after his bowling spell. If Nalkande is unfit, one could see Dayal coming back in. Titans could also bring in Josh Little as a replacement, but that would see Shanaka dropped. Little is a frontrunner for his experience and better bowling numbers compared to the uncapped Indians, more so in a knockout game.

With Tilak Varma returning to their side against Lucknow Super Giants, Mumbai have no injury concerns.

Impact Player strategy: What will Mumbai do?

Mumbai could use an extra batter – like in the Eliminator with Nehal Wadhera – and sacrifice an extra bowling option to give their first-innings total a push if they bat first. Otherwise, the default route is Suryakumar Yadav being used as an Impact sub for an Indian bowler.

Mumbai Indians (probable XII): 1 Ishan Kishan (wk), 2 Rohit Sharma (capt), 3 Cameron Green, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Tilak Varma, 6 Tim David, 7 Hrithik Shokeen/Nehal Wadhera, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Jason Behrendorff, 11 Akash Madhwal, 12 Kumar Kartikeya

Titans are likely to go with Vijay as the Impact Player in a chase or bring in a fast bowler if they are defending.

Gujarat Titans (probable XII): 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Hardik Pandya (capt), 4 Vijay Shankar, 5 David Miller, 6 Sai Sudharsan/Abhinav Manohar, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Noor Ahmad, 10 Josh Little/Yash Dayal, 11 Mohit Sharma, 12 Mohammed Shami.

Stats that matter: Watch out for Rohit vs Rashid

It has touched 43 degrees in Ahmedabad. Curators have covered the pitch to ensure it doesn’t break down abnormally. The pitch for the game is among the least used strips – the centre has nine surfaces – and is being brought in to seemingly provide a run fest.

It has been watered adequately to ensure some amount of moisture helps bind it underneath. The curator expects good pace and bounce like all season. Dew isn’t expected to be a major factor, helped by the chemical they use to prevent its formation.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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