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It is set to be a mouth-watering contest between the Mumbai Indiansand the Chennai Super Kingsat the Feroze Shah Kotla when they take each on other in the first Playoff of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013. Both the teams finished the league phase with 22 points each, the run-rate deciding their position on the points table.
While speaking to the media ahead of practice in the hot Delhi weather, MI’s stand-in skipper, Rohit Sharma indicated that it will be an even contest on Tuesday evening.
Asked about the big clash against theMS Dhoni-led side, who have more experience of playing in the Playoffs and the high pressure situation, he said, “We have no doubts they are a good team. I am sure if we can play consistent cricket it will help us. We just need to up whatever we have been doing by ten percent. We have beaten them in the league phases in both games, so obviously, the pressure will be on them. “We’ve got to go out and do what we have been doing so far. I am sure that if we can stick together, get the things right on the field it will certainly help us.”
Besides Sharma himself, the team has had many different players perform on different occasions and have clicked as a unit to take them across the line. Australian pacer, Mitchell Johnson has been one of their key players in the tournament so far. Speaking about his contribution, Sharma said, “He has been brilliant. He has been getting those early breakthroughs for us which is very important in this format. If he can continue what he has been doing, it will really be great. He has got the experience, and he has been doing it for Australia for so many years. It is not surprising what he has been doing.
Former MI captain, Harbhajan Singh too has played a key role in the Mumbai franchise’s fortunes. Discussing the contribution of the ‘Turbanator’ and the team, he said, “Along with Mitchell Johnson Harbhajan is probably in the top ten I guess along with Pragyan Ojha. I actually cannot single out anyone here. It has been a real team effort. You have seen Lasith Malinga chipping in, in the last two-three games. Ojha has been brilliant for us.
“Whenever our fifth bowler has come in; they have got wickets. Dhawal Kulkarni played in Mumbai and got two wickets, Pawan Suyal played against CSK and got one wicket. So the fifth bowlers is not a problem for us. All the four bowlers that we have been playing have been fantastic. They have been getting wickets regularly, especially Bhajji has been fantastic. Getting 19 wickets in the tournament is something good. His bowling has certainly helped us reaching here and his batting too. He has gone in at the later part of the game got us through a couple of times. We are looking forward to Harbhajan Singh contributing in terms of batting and bowling as well.”
The youngster himself has led from the front and amassed 526 runs from 16 games. Speaking about the responsibility of leading the team, Sharma said, “When it came to me it was a huge challenge but I was ready. It didn’t come to me as a surprise because over the last two years I have been the vice-captain so I was in the loop of taking that responsibility. And yes, it came at the right time and I feel it has certainly helped my batting a lot. I am understanding the game more than what I used to, and it is really reflecting and I am very happy the way things have gone so far.”
Asked how he has managed to keep his team focused despite matters that have been unfolding off the field, Sharma said, “Everybody here is a professional cricketer. We have got a more important job here than to think other issues. We are here on a mission and we certainly don’t want to get distracted by what is happening. We have got big job on our hands, to win the Trophy. So we are all concentrating on what we need to do, the planning, the strategy and stuff like that.”
While the team has moved from strength to strength, the fitness of Sachin Tendulkar has kept him out of the last two league games. Speaking about Tendulkar’s fitness and his availability for the game, he said, “We don’t know yet, we are going to take a call on Tuesday.
Discussing the team’s away record, which has not been as great as their record at home, the Wankhede Stadium, and if it would have an implication on playing the Playoff at the Kotla, Sharma insisted the team needed to play good cricket to win games. Elaborating, he said, “I don’t believe in the home and away thing because at the end of the day you have to play good cricket and as I said if we can up the ante by ten percent in whatever we have been doing, batting bowling and fielding I am sure that the results will fall in place. And CSK too will be playing away and I don’t think they have a good away record as well. So it has been the same for both the teams. There will not be home or crowd advantage for any of the games. So at the end of the day we have to play good cricket to win the game.
Match 72 of Pepsi IPL 2013 will feature Sunrisers Hyderabad taking on IPL 2012 winners Kolkata Knight Riders.
What is riding on this match? Lots for the Sunrisers Hyderabad! A victory for the IPL’s newest franchise will take them to the Pepsi IPL 2013 Playoffs. They have 18 points in their kitty heading into this match and a win against KKR will pitchfork them ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s tally of 18 points.
SRH will bank on their knowledge of home conditions and their impressive record at Hyderabad to overhaul KKR.
The visitors meanwhile will be aware that they have not played to their potential.
The defending champions have only managed six wins prior to this match and lie seventh in the standings. Apart from having a chance to finish the tournament on a high and giving their fans something to cheer, KKR also have a chance to ruin SRH’s chances of making their maiden appearance in the Pepsi IPL 2013 Playoffs.
Sunday, May 18, 2013, 8 p.m
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad
SRH will know that they have come this far in the tournament primarily because their bowlers have delivered the goods time and again. Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma have performed admirably as a bowling unit as well as performing brilliantly as individuals. Given this is the business end of the competition – the fact that this is a do-or-die game, it is about time their batsmen come to the party.
Shikhar Dhawan, Cameron White and Thisara Perera will be the ones expected to do the bulk of the damage, while Parthiv Patel and Hanuma Vihari will be expected to chip in with quick runs too.
Kolkata Knight Riders are not too dissimilar to Sunrisers Hyderabad especially given the kind of surface they are likely to encounter at Hyderabad. In Sunil Narine, Sachithra Senanayake and L Balaji they have bowlers who can make run-scoring a difficult proposition on slow surfaces. Given how little experience there is in the batting department, KKR need runs from Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order. After scoring 235 runs in the first five innings this season, the KKR skipper has fallen over, only managing 161 runs in the next 10 matches.
The inclusion of Ryan ten Doeschate has certainly added more ammunition to the KKR middle-order.
In the only previous meeting the Kolkata Knight Riders romped home to a 48-run victory. After posting 180 for four, batting first, the KKR bowlers did well to restrict the visitors to 132 for seven.
The average first innings total in matches at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium this season is 135. Off the seven matches played at the venue so far, teams have posted in excess of 135 only twice.
The Kolkata Knight Riders will be buoyed by the fact that they have won both their previous matches at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.
Both teams complete their Pepsi IPL 2013 league fixtures with this match. If SRH win on Sunday night they will travel to Delhi and take on the Rajasthan Royals in the eliminator scheduled for May 22.