IPL Preview: High-flying Mumbai take on Pune in Maha derby clash
On a roll after a six-game winning streak, high-flying Mumbai Indians will take on a resurgent Rising Pune Supergiant, their only conquerors in IPL season 10, in a potentially high-voltage clash here on Monday.
Pune's last-ball, six-wicket victory on Saturday at home against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad was followed just over a 100km away at the Wankhede Stadium here by Mumbai's stout defence of a small total on a bouncy pitch against the misfiring Delhi Daredevils.
Table toppers Mumbai, thus, are in a perfect state of mind to seek revenge for their first leg loss to their Maharashtra rivals in their opening game in Pune, their only defeat in this season so far.
That the Pune victory over Hyderabad was piloted by none other than the iconic Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who smashed an unbeaten 61 not out in 34 balls to steer the side home in the last ball, will not be lost on the Mumbai think-tank.
The timely return to form by the talismanic former Indian captain, along with Pune captain Steve Smith's strong show so far in the tournament, makes this duo formidable rivals for the Mumbai bowlers who showed great skills in defending a small total of 142 against Delhi. It was a rare, forgettable outing with the bat for Mumbai against Delhi and they must pull up their socks to confront the threat posed by the Pune bowling attack on Monday .
Particularly interesting will be the battle between Pune's South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir and Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma who once again fell to a wrist spinner yesterday against Delhi, playing across. Tahir had his number in the first leg clash in Pune and will be confident of causing the Mumbai captain's downfall on a track that offered excellent bounce and turn yesterday. Mumbai's major plus has been the depth in their batting and variety in bowling, as not many other teams are blessed with such a combination in the league. Against Delhi, Mumbai batting failed to click although some batsmen like Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya got encouraging starts but could not convert them to big scores.
Although unlikely, Mumbai have the option of bringing back Ambati Rayudu -- who has started training with the team after recovering from his early-season injury. In bowling, Lasith Malinga has leaked runs in the previous two games, conceding over 50 each expectedly made way to Mitchell Johnson who bowled reasonably well and is expected to be retained against Pune on Monday.