Fans in Mumbai have been disappointed twice. Will they be lucky the third time?
In the past 10 days, Sachin Tendulkar was set to face two of the world’s most artistic spinners at the Brabourne Stadium. But the contests didn’t happen.
Against the Rajasthan Royals on March 13, Tendulkar perished even before Shane Warne could get his hands on the ball. On Saturday, as the Mumbai Indians faced Royal Challengers, Tendulkar had faced a mere three deliveries from Anil Kumble when R Vinay Kumar cut the innings short.
As the Mumbai Indians face Super Kings in their quest to regain the top spot in the points’ table, the question uppermost is whether Thursday will witness a duel between Tendulkar and Muttiah Muralitharan?
Both men have been performing as well as they have ever done on a cricket field. While Tendulkar is placed third in the list of most run-scorers in IPL III, Muralitharan has the Purple Cap for being the highest wicket-taker.
Not often in the first two seasons have Suresh Raina’s men gone into a match with the tag of underdogs. It remains to be seen if Muralitharan and Hayden lift the team’s morale after two disappointing defeats.
On the other hand, Tendulkar’s men didn’t enter a game as firm favourites in the first two editions. Now, barring a slump against Royal Challengers, they have handled pressure quite well.
But, with Ambati Rayudu set to miss out, Super Kings will fancy themselves against an untested middle-order in case they get the in-form Tendulkar and Saurabh Tiwary early.
Dhoni checks in
Even before the Super Kings arrived in Mumbai after their Tuesday night's loss to the Royal Challengers, the most sought-after man in Indian cricket had checked in at the team hotel.
MS Dhoni, who missed the last three matches due to an elbow injury, rejoined the team ahead of Thursday’s tie.
After spending a week in Ranchi, Dhoni worked hard in the nets for almost an hour. The rigorous stint indicated that he was, in all likelihood, going to take over the reins from Raina.
Coach Stephen Fleming said, “We will take a call after training and see how he is tomorrow.”