As the group stage of the IPL 2017 is done and dusted, we move into the business end of the tournament. Mumbai Indians take on Rising Pune SuperGiant in the first qualifier of the season. The winner plays the final on Sunday, whereas the loser earns another chance to battle it out with the winner of the eliminator to reach the final.
Mumbai Indians have been clinical in their approach this season. There were no hiccups in their campaign and they sit comfortably at the top of the table. Every player in the team have played their part in one match or the another.
Nitish Rana has been the “find of the season” for the Mumbai Indians. A left-handed, batsman from Delhi, he has shown his ability as an attacking top-order player following the footsteps of fellow Delhites, Shikhar Dhawana and Gautam Gambhir. In the 13 matches that he has been part of the Mumbai eleven, he has 333 Runs at a strike rate of 126. The same performance is expected of him in the play-offs hoping he could handle the pressure and play in his flamboyant style to guide Mumbai to the trophy.
International Cricket has been a real exposure for the Marathi youngster. Hardik Pandya never fails to impress with his six-hitting abilities and wicket taking deliveries. Same has been the case this season. Crucial in the Mumbai’s race to the final, Pandya has 226 runs this season with 18 huge sixes. His innings’ came at in the final overs of the matches where he scored at a strike rate of 160 giving his team the extra 20-30 runs at the end. Even his bowling has been above par this season. With the economy rate of just 8.08, Hardik has picked 6 wickets in the tournament. Him firing in the Qualifier will be a significant factor in getting the Mumbai Indians into the final.
As Jos Buttler has left India for a series back home, Mumbai lack an attacking batsmen right at the top. Although Simmons has just played 4 matches this season, he has scored 126 runs and has looked impressive. Lasith Malinga, Keiran Pollard and Mitchell McClenaghan might be the other three overseas players to be picked alongside Simmons.
Predicted XI: Lendl Simmons, Parthiv Patel, Rohit Sharma, Nitish Rana, Keiran Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Harbhajan Singh
The Average score for Mumbai Indians while batting first has been almost 170, but they will look to chase which they have been doing for better part of the season, successfully. With the fire power at the end, it will not be difficult for them to chase down any total.
Win the Toss, Bowl First.