When Mumbai faced Mohali on the latter’s home turf on April 25, the teams were in search of their maiden win in the IPL after two defeats each. Twenty-six days hence, as the teams cross swords at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday, the scenario has changed.
While Yuvraj Singh’s men have a semifinal slot in sight, Sachin Tendulkar’s side are two points adrift of Mohali’s 14 points. Mumbai go into the match placed fourth as compared to Mohali’s second place.
Eyeing the semis
Mohali need to win at least one of their remaining three matches to be safely placed for a last four place while Mumbai would want to win two of their four matches.
Even if Mumbai’s unbeaten streak of six matches is broken on Wednesday, they would not worry as they have the second best run rate so far.
Their unbelievable run, especially after suffering four losses at the beginning of their campaign, was acknowledged by Mohali coach Tom Moody, who called the tie as the “biggest test” for his team.
Moody also sounded a warning to his boys, saying they were far securing a spot in the semis.
“(Only) Jaipur are so far in the box seat, but we've got some hard work to do,” Moody said. “The game against Mumbai is going to be the biggest of the tournament for us.”
While Mohali don’t have issues regarding selection, Mumbai have to find a replacement for Dwayne Bravo, who has returned to the West Indies, besides assessing Shaun Pollock’s fitness.
It remains to be seen whether the team think tank prefers to have a genuine pace bowler in Andre Nel to West Indian Dwayne Smith, whose signing was announced on Monday.
But more than Bravo’s replacement, it remains to be seen whether Pollock would be fit for what would be their last home match in the league stage. Opening the bowling, Pollock’s fitness assumes importance with Mohali opener Shaun Marsh in great touch.
The Sree factor
The previous Mohali match between these two teams hogged the headlines for Harbhajan Singh’s shameful act of slapping Sreesanth after the match.
While Harbhajan was banned from the rest of the IPL season and subsequently for five ODIs by the BCCI, Sreesanth walked away with a stern warning due to lack of evidence.
Since then, Sreesanth seems to have curbed his instincts. However, it would be interesting to see how he responds if he is goes for runs against Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar.