Mumbai Indians’ Sharma looks for maiden win this season as he locks horns with his India captain Kohli-led RCB tonight
Captain Virat Kohli and his deputy in limited-overs Rohit Sharma square off as MI take on RCB in Mumbai today
Mumbai: Tuesday’s tie will not only be a contest between India captain across all formats, Virat Kohli, and his deputy in limited-overs and stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma, it will also be a match in which Mumbai Indians will look for their first win after three defeats, when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at home.
For Sharma-led MI, two of the defeats have come off the last ball and the other one off the penultimate delivery of the match. These results could have gone either way, but the Blue Brigade ought to have won them comfortably by putting up enough runs. However, they lost the plot and lost wickets in the middle-overs.
RCB, who have one win from three matches, give MI company in the bottom half of the table and will look for that winning momentum if they are to realise their dream of lifting the elusive trophy for the first time.
MI have been in similar situations before – having lost first four matches consecutively in 2015 and going on to win the title in 2015 and losing their first five in 2014 and going on to enter the Playoffs.
But, Rohit and Co. know that every day is not Sunday. They will have to look themselves in the mirror and see where they faltered to not put any point on the board. Barring IPL debutant leg-spinner Mayank Markande, MI bowlers have let them down. They have the wiliest attack in Jasprit Bumrah and Bangladesh left-armer Mustafizur Rahman.
Even Markande, having gone for under six an over in his first two matches, faced harsh reality when he went wicketless and gave away runs aplenty. Sharma not scoring big also is a factor in MI not having their first points yet. Batting up the order in the first two matches with West Indies’ big-hitting left-hander Evin Lewis, he dropped himself to No. 4 while sending Suryakumar Yadav up.
Sharma, regularly an opener for India in limitedovers, has given up this in IPL to lend stability in the back end of the innings. He has done so in previous seasons and has borne fruits. However, not this IPL yet.
It will just be a matter of time before Sharma starts firing and his team starts winning.
RCB, on the other hand, have a better firepower in batting. Led by Kohli, who was opening for his franchise in the previous seasons but has gone to his original India position of No. 3, will look to score big.
Having settled down in this city after marriage late last year, Kohli has not really been struggling for runs like his counterpart Sharma and has got starts.
RCB have other batting powerhouses in Brendon McCullum and AB de Villiers, who have not really set this IPL on fire.
Kohli, the tactician, has the upperhand against Sharma. The MI skipper’s choice of sending Hardik Pandya to open the bowling against DD, and not either of his best bowlers Bumrah or Rahman against DD backfired as DD sent the India all-rounder to the cleaners. It was too late for Bumrah or any other premier bowler to repair the damage.
There was no such issues for Kohli, who wisely used his off-spinner Washington Sundar to open the bowling and was successful, containing the RR batsmen inside the Power Play.
There is everything to play for. Whether it is Sharma’s experience of leading MI to three titles in the past or Kohli’s strategic moves that come out victorious, the fans will in for a delightful treat.
(Left) Rohit Sharma