Semifinals now beckon. The Mumbai Indians have an opportunity to present their admirable skipper, Sachin Tendulkar, a place in the final as a birthday gift. Tendulkar has been a man on a mission in this IPL and it would be a travesty of justice if destiny denies him his due.
Indians are fresh despite their loss to the Kolkata Knight Riders. It is unlikely to hurt their morale as five frontline players had taken a break on Monday. The Tendulkars, Pollards, Zaheers and Harbhajans would be back for the semifinal and the side would be full strength.
It would be no less a help that the game is scheduled at home. The Mumbai Indians have appeared extra fortified in familiar conditions. A turn of events has brought the semifinals home. Even the gods appear to be on their side.
Yet, if there is a team which can play spoilsport, it is Bangalore. Anil Kumble’s men might have scraped through to the semifinals, but man-for-man, pound-for-pound, they measure up to the Mumbai Indians. Their league performance is distinctly inferior to Mumbai, yet their star-cast is glittering. A great match in prospect. Remember, what’s happened is history. This is knockout.
Both sides are littered with icons. Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid are all-time greats. Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan need no introduction and Dale Steyn possesses rare firepower. Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar, Cameron White, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor and Virat Kohli can daunt the best.
The support cast of the Mumbai Indians isn’t so heavy on stars but a few of the best youngsters of this IPL are with them. Shikhar Dhawan, Saurabh Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard pack a punch. The likes of Jean Paul Duminy are also peaking at the right time. Each one of these names can be a match-winner.
It’s a blockbuster all right.
The second semifinal is more intriguing. The Chennai Super Kings and the Deccan Chargers have all defied odds to be in the last-four. The Chargers have been most remarkable in that they have an astonishing run of five straight victories.
Nobody had foreseen such a run from them.
Tendulkar and Kallis — both openers. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Adam Gilchrist —both batsmen-wicketkeepers. It might just be two Twenty20 matches, but these two surely would be long nights. Every ball will have a story. Every stroke will have a theme.
Let good times roll on.