On paper, they have one of the strongest line-ups in the Indian Premier League, but when they lock horns against the Chennai Super Kings in the return leg on Sunday, it will be the firepower in their bowling that the Mumbai Indians will be banking on.
Despite the presence of Sachin
Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard in their ranks, Mumbai owe four out of their six victories to their bowlers.
Only against the Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede, when they made 197 for six, and Kings XI at Mohali, when they chased down 168, did their batters lead from the front.
Failed to click
They have experimented with combinations and batting positions, but have failed to click as a unit. In the last game at Pune, the much-vaunted line-up laboured to 120 for nine, and prior to that, they had huffed and puffed to the Deccan Chargers' total of 100, getting there after 18.1 overs and losing five wickets in the process.
While their openers haven't been able to push the pace in the powerplay overs, against the Pune Warriors they provided a decent start with Tendulkar and James Franklin putting on a 50-run stand. But, the middle order failed to build on it, leaving captain Harbhajan Singh fuming.
Star batsman Rohit, who aggregates 233 runs at an average of 25.88 after 10 games, admitted it is the bowlers who have contributed.
"Our bowlers have done well throughout the tournament. They have restricted most of the teams to a manageable total. Bowling has been up to the mark but batting hasn't clicked as we would have liked," he admitted.
Harbhajan is hoping that their replacement player, Dwayne Smith, will provide the much-needed depth to the batting.
The situation is similar for the Super Kings. Not much has gone right for them. They have been badly affected by the poor form of their batsmen with their younger men, Suresh Raina and M Vijay, who were expected to dominate the scoring, being below par. S Badrinath and skipper MS Dhoni have struggled too, with averages below 30.
Walking a tightrope
With 11 points from 11 games, CSK are walking a tightrope and their under-pressure line-up can expect to be fully tested. Lasith Malinga has been his miserly self and stands at No 2 in the bowling charts with 17 wickets (economy rate 5.23) and for all his mindless antics, Munaf Patel has proved to be an ideal foil to the Sri Lankan with 12 wickets (ER: 7.10). Harbhajan too has bowled with rhythm in the last games, taking two wickets in each game.
In the first-leg game, CSK was bundled out for 112, and on Sunday too taking runs off Mumbai's in-form unit will take some doing.
© Copyright © 2013 HT Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.