IPL 2019: Hardik Pandya-powered Mumbai seek to seal play-off spot as SRH start life without Warner

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Pandya in sensational form for Mumbai. Image - BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

Mumbai Indians could become the third team to book their 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) play-off berth when they host Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

With 14 points from 12 games so far, Mumbai will join Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals in the play-offs should they beat Hyderabad. SRH, meanwhile, currently hold on to the fourth and final play-off spot with 12 points and they could take a giant stride towards finishing in the top-four themselves should they end up on the winning side.

MUMBAI SEEK TO BOUNCE BACK FROM RECENT SETBACKS

After an indifferent start, Mumbai’s campaign had picked up steam with the team going on a strong run that saw them win five of their six games. However, that resurgent run has taken a beating of late with Andre Russell and Kolkata Knight Riders handing them a crushing 34-run loss in their most recent encounter.

That means Rohit Sharma and his men have lost two of three last three outings and are in danger of losing momentum at the most crucial stage of the tournament.

As such, the side will be glad that they are playing their final two league stage fixtures at home. While their home form this season in nothing to shout about, with three wins and two losses so far, Mumbai will now get two bites at the cherry with a sole victory in the remaining games – enough to confirm their play-off qualification.

SRH START LIFE WITHOUT WARNER

Thursday will see Sunrisers Hyderabad line up without David Warner for the first time this campaign, with the opening batsman having departed to join the Australian World Cup preparatory camp.

The Aussie signed off the competition in style with a fluent 81 to help his side beat Kings XI Punjab by 45 runs at Hyderabad. It was Warner’s ninth 50 plus score in the 2019 edition with the left-hander racking up a total of 692 runs in his 12 innings.

With his fellow opening partner Jonny Bairstow already having returned to England earlier, Sunrisers have now lost their two most prolific batsmen ahead of the business end of the tournament.

That means there will be added pressure on skipper Kane Williamson to step up after spending most this campaign on the bench. How Hyderabad cope with Warner’s absence will be interesting to see and it could very well be the deciding factor in the side’s play-off ambitions.

MUMBAI BANK ON PANDYA FIREPOWER

A big part of Mumbai’s resurgence this season after the disappointment of not making the play-offs in the 2018 edition has been the sensational form of Hardik Pandya.

After an international season blighted by injuries and controversies, the India all-rounder has been in full flow with his sublimely clean-hitting in the death overs paving the way for several Mumbai wins.

Pandya’s form, especially with the bat, has only been getting better with each passing game and it reached a crescendo in the clash against KKR where he struck 91 off just 34 deliveries while registering the fastest fifty (17 balls) of the IPL 2019 edition.

The right-armed all-rounder is averaging over 50 with the bat this season with a strike-rate of nearly 200. Throw in his bowling contributions where he has picked up 10 wickets and it is easy to see why Pandya has been Mumbai’s most valuable player and biggest game-changer.

LIKELY XIs

Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Barinder Sran, Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah.

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (c), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Manish Pandey, Mohammad Nabi, Vijay Shankar, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma.

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IPL 2019: RCB knocked out by Shreyas Gopal hat-trick and rain

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Shreyas Gopal took a hat-trick in Banglore. Image: BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

Rajasthan Royals leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal took an incredible hat-trick in a rain-curtailed five-overs-a-side match against Royal Challengers Bangalore that was eventually called off with just 10 balls remaining, ending RCB’s hopes of qualifying for the IPL playoffs.

It was a match that almost didn’t happen after a thunderstorm hit Bengaluru on Tuesday. But groundstaff at the Chinnaswamy Stadium cleared the ground for play and the stage was set for five-overs-a-side game.

RCB batted first and captain Virat Kohli made his intentions clear from the off, smashing the first two balls bowled by pacer Varun Aaron for sixes.

But just when he seemed to be getting into top speed, leggie Gopal deceived Kohli into hitting one straight to long on in the second over. Next ball, fellow opener AB de Villiers skied a slog to cover as RCB lost two in two. In Gopal’s last four games against RCB in IPL, he has dismissed both Kohli and ABD in three of those matches, which is a staggering achievement.

More glory awaited Gopal as next man Marcus Stoinis slapped the leggie to mid off to complete the hat-trick.

After a strong start, Bangalore could only reach 62 after losing seven wickets.

In reply, Rajasthan raced to 40 in three overs and needed 22 from 10 balls when it started raining again, forcing the players off the ground and bringing a premature end to the game. With both teams sharing a point, RCB were officially knocked out of the IPL while Rajasthan too suffered as two points seemed within their grasp.

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IPL 2019: Rajasthan Royals' play-off hopes on the line vs RCB

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Rajasthan need to win at any cost. Image - @IPL/Twitter.

There is a lot riding on Tuesday’s 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at Bengaluru as Royal Challengers Bangalore play host to Rajasthan Royals at the Chinnaswamy stadium.

RCB are all but out of the running in the play-off race after defeat to Delhi Capitals but there still exists the slim mathematical probability of Virat Kohli’s men clinching a place in the top-four.

For Rajasthan, however, the chances are much more brighter but Steve Smith and his men will need to win their two remaining fixtures at any cost if they are to advance to the play-offs.

Will RCB spoil Rajasthan’s party or will Smith’s men make it three wins in a row in their IPL 2019 campaign? Find out by following the ball-by-ball action from Bengaluru below.

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