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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

CSK vs MI: Hardik Pandya’s bowling a concern as Mumbai Indians hope to storm Chennai Super Kings fortress

IPL 2019: Chennai Super Kings would like to consolidate their position at the top when they take on an inconsistent Mumbai Indians in an IPL match.

cricket Updated: Apr 26, 2019 10:03 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Mumbai Indians' Hardik Pandya bowls during a match in IPL 2019.
Mumbai Indians' Hardik Pandya bowls during a match in IPL 2019.(AP)

Even after 11 summers, the Indian Premier League can’t really boast of a rivalry that has everyone waiting with bated breath. That the franchises assemble for just two months filled with hype and then dissipate into a lull for a major part of the year, may be a strong reason behind it.

Chennai is different. Their fans swear by the Super Kings, who have won the T20 tournament thrice. Only one team equals their dominance – Mumbai Indians. And when they come visiting the city, it’s only natural that the yellow brigade turns up in numbers to show their loyalty. So much so, that the police had to resort to a mild lathi charge outside Chepauk on Wednesday to control the over enthusiastic ticket-seeking fans.

READ: ICC World Cup 2019: Sourav Ganguly names his favourites to reach semis

With things heating up off the field, the match too is expected to be an exciting affair. Both teams have three Indian World Cup squad members – the most among all the franchises. And while the top-placed CSK (16 points) have more or less sealed a playoff spot, Mumbai Indians (12 points) still have some distance to go.

Pandya’s form

CSK is one team that knows how to grind out a win and they have done it in all the matches here this season. Once dubbed the ‘Dad’s Army’ for having a bunch of 34-somethings as their core members, they turned the table with a title triumph in 2018.

Mumbai, on the other hand, have an assembly of individual talents with high impact. Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma might be going through a lean patch but a match-altering performance is always around the corner. It is amidst this flamboyance that Hardik Pandya finds himself placed in a pivotal role.

READ: IPL 2019: Drama surrounding lost ball leaves De Villiers in splits - Watch

Pandya’s quickfire knocks at No 5 or No 6 have made the difference in more than one match. On Indian pitches with shortened boundaries, his hitting prowess is a treat to watch. With a strike-rate of 189.76, Pandya has scored 241 runs in 10 matches and seems to be relishing smashing bowlers out of the park. Fined R 20 lakh earlier this week for his controversial comments on a TV show, Pandya would be encouraged by his performance.

Costly with the ball

Being an all-rounder though, Pandya’s job is half-finished. On the bowling front, Pandya has fallen short of expectations. Not only is his economy of 9.52 per over after 10 matches one of the worst in his team, Pandya is yet to provide mentionable support to Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah.

In the lead up to the World Cup where he is expected to play dual roles, Pandya is yet to find momentum. He has struggled with his length as the batsmen have picked him up early. And on slow pitches, Pandya has not been able to generate pace. Unlike CSK’s Deepak Chahar who has good variations and generates swing early, Pandya hasn’t showed the same ability. In front of the Chennai crowd, Pandya will be keenly watched. Chennai loves showmanship at the Chepauk. And if Pandya makes it big here, even the CSK fans might whistle for him.

First Published: Apr 25, 2019 20:45 IST

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