ABU DHABI: Five-time champions Mumbai Indians will need to outclass bottom-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last league match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Friday, knowing fully well the tricky situation they have found themselves in their bid for a play-offs spot.
Courtesy their eight-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals, the defending champions are currently at the fifth spot, with 12 points from 13 games, with a net run rate of -0.048. But, Kolkata Knight Riders, with a net run rate of +0.294, are sitting on the fourth spot with 12 points from 13 games and will play Rajasthan Royals on Thursday evening in Sharjah.
A win for KKR against RR will take them to 14 points and also improve their net run rate further. In that scenario, MI may find it very difficult to qualify for the play-offs even if they beat SRH as the gap in their NRR with KKR is not small.
Asked if it is an advantage to play a team like SRH on the last day, MI captain Rohit Sharma had said, "All eight teams are capable of beating each other. But the good thing is that KKR plays before us, so we will know what to do."
In case KKR lose, then a win will be enough for MI to seal the fourth play-offs spot as they then will have 14 points. In any case, Rohit (363 runs) will have to lead from the front again. He has got starts but has not been able to convert them, and the great white-ball exponent would be itching for a big score.
And so would be his opening partner Ishan Kishan (157 runs), whose confidence would have been boosted from his unbeaten fifty against RR.
MI's horribly out of form middle order, comprising the supremely talented Suryakumar Yadav (235 runs), all-rounders Hardik Pandya (117 runs), Kieron Pollard (232) and Saurabh Tiwary (115 runs), will have to come good.
On their day, they can take any opposition attack to the cleaners and SRH's would be no exception. MI team management would, however, be pleased with the performance of their bowlers, who had restricted RR for a meagre 90 and are unlikely to tinker with the combination.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah (19 wickets) was exceptional and would be raring to bowl his yorkers again. He would need support from Trent Boult, Nathan Coulter-Nile, who grabbed four wickets in the last game, and spinner Jayant Yadav.
The Sunrisers, who are already out of reckoning for a play-offs berth, will look to finish the tournament on a high. Skipper Kane Williamson was back among the runs and would be keen to start from where he left on Wednesday.
But the Kiwi will need support from others like Jason Roy and relatively inexperienced guys like Abhishek Sharma, Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad and aggressive Wriddhiman Saha.
With the addition of pace sensation Urman Malik, SRH have one of the best bowling attacks and the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan and Siddharth Kaul would have to be at their best to contain MI's explosive batting line up.
Also, the contribution of West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder, both with the bat and ball, could be decisive.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary, Anukul Roy, Simarjeet Singh, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, James Neesham, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Marco Jansen, Yudhvir Singh, Adam Milne, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (captain), David Warner, Manish Pandey, Sherfane Rutherford, Wriddhiman Saha, Shreevats Goswami, Rashid Khan, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Abhishek Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Urman Malik, Basil Thampi, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Abdul Samad, J Suchith, Jason Holder, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Jason Roy.
Match starts at 7:30pm IST.