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Big name, small game

Mohali and Mumbai, tigers on paper, have whimpered on the field and both will be desperate for a win, reports Amol Karhadkar.

cricket Updated: Apr 25, 2008 03:05 IST
Amol Karhadkar

These two teams were supposed to be among the powerhouses in the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL). However, rather than being at the top of the table, Mumbai and Mohali are struggling to find their feet.

Sachin Tendulkar’s men, or for that matter Harbhajan Singh’s, and Yuvraj Singh’s will be desperate to open their points tally after suffering two losses in as many matches.

The teams have a lot in common, both on and off the field. If Mumbai have Thursday’s birthday boy Tendulkar, who still remains uncertain for the game due to a groin injury, Mohali have Yuvraj; if Mumbai have Shaun Pollock and Sanath Jayasuriya, Mohali have Brett Lee and Kumar Sangakkara.

However, despite the big names, both the teams have had a major problem. Neither has been able to put up a strong show as a unit.

While Mohali conceded 240 runs in their opening tie against a formidable Chennai batting unit, their bowlers again failed to restrict the Jaipur batsmen in their second match.

With Brett Lee, Irfan Pathan, S Sreesanth and Piyush Chawla in their ranks, bowling was supposed to be Mohali’s forte. However, it’s turned out to be their weakness with none of the bowlers getting into rhythm. As a result, coach Tom Moody had plenty to ponder on the eve of the match.

Moody’s Mumbai compatriot Lalchand Rajput was also in a somewhat similar position. Neither of the top four batsmen, except for Robin Uthappa, have been among runs. And when it comes to bowling, neither of the bowlers have been able to give them breakthroughs, which is a must in T20 cricket if a team has to restrict its opponents.

Rajput had another major concern, probably as big as Tendulkar’s fitness. The team is slated to play three away matches in five days, which is not easy considering the weather.

Tendulkar not yet match fit

Minutes after the Mumbai team landed late in the evening on Thursday, coach Rajput told a media conference that the team will take a call on Tendulkar “tomorrow based on the physio’s assessment”. However, the team sources confirmed that Tendulkar is very unlikely to play.