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Mumbai set for big bash

Languishing in the bottom half of the IPL standings, a home game would have come as a welcome relief for the Deccan Chargers. Rohit Bhaskar reports.

cricket Updated: Apr 24, 2011 01:02 IST
Rohit Bhaskar

Languishing in the bottom half of the IPL standings, a home game would have come as a welcome relief for the Deccan Chargers.

However, with league leaders, Mumbai Indians, in the visitors' dressing room, Kumar Sangakkara's men will have their task cut out when the two teams lock horns at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Sunday.

The match has been pushed to the background as it falls on the day Sachin Tendulkar turns 38. All the attention is on whether the Master Blaster will take the field.

SACHIN COULD MISS TIE?
A big question mark hangs over Tendulkar's presence in the MI line-up on Sunday, with a section of the media saying he won't play, as he is worried about the deteriorating condition of Sathya Sai Baba, of whom he is an ardent follower. However, MI officials rubbished the claims.

If he does play, it will be only the second time in his over two-decade long career that Tendulkar will take the field after blowing out the candles on his birthday cake. The last time was at Sharjah before the 1998 Coca-Cola Cup final against Australia. On that occasion he had struck a masterful 134 to guide India past the men from Down Under. If he plays on Sunday, the fans will expect nothing less.

MUMBAI A FORCE
With or without Tendulkar, Mumbai are a force to reckon with. The return to form of Rohit Sharma, who was stroking the ball with effortless ease in their last match against the Chennai Super Kings, will be an added boost for Mumbai.

Such has been Mumbai's domination that big-hitters such as Andrew Symonds and Kieron Pollard have hardly been required to spend time in the middle. However, they have chipped in with the ball and on the field, where their standard has been a notch, or two, above the competition.

In the bowling department, too, Mumbai hold all the aces. Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga has been unstoppable, and is the leading wicket-taker in league. The second highest wicket-taker is also from Mumbai — Harbhajan Singh.

Sangakkara's men played well to beat the Delhi Daredevils in their last match, and will need to do much the same things to keep Mumbai at bay. Sunny Sohal and Bharat Chipli have been the standout performers for the Chargers. The relative unknowns have stolen the limelight off their more established team-mates.