League position – 1
Matches – 14
Wins – 9
Losses – 5
If there is one man who has defined Mumbai’s campaign this season, it is Hardik Pandya. The all-rounder has put behind a lean year in international cricket behind him to produce his best-ever IPL showing.
A total of 380 runs have come solely from Pandya’s bat so far this season with the right-hander striking them at a rate of nearly 200. Only KKR’s Andre Russell can claim to have a better all-round tournament than Pandya who has also picked up 14 wickets with the ball and even that will be an arguable call.
With Pandya striking the ball as cleanly as he has ever done in his career, Mumbai will be pretty confident.
Currently, there aren’t many chinks in Mumbai’s armour. However, they have relied too heavily on Pandya’s swift cameos in the death overs to bail them out of sticky situations on several occasions and that reliance could prove costly if the all-rounder fails to fire.
One of the top-order batsmen who has failed to really make it count is skipper Rohit Sharma, whose second half-century of the tournament came as recently as Sunday. While he has had several starts, the opener has struggled to play the long innings and that has at times increased the pressure on all-rounders such as Pandya and Kieron Pollard to go all guns blazing from ball one.
Finishing top of the league has its perks and the biggest of them is the fact that Mumbai will get two attempts at making the final. That is not the only positive sign for Rohit’s men, who take on Chennai Super Kings at the Chepauk stadium in Qualifier 1.
Mumbai have won five of their seven meetings against CSK at the Chepauk and that should give them the upper hand in the Qualifier. They have also done the double over MS Dhoni and his men this season and that should be another psychological boost.
Spin will be crucial for Mumbai in the Qualifier 1 battle against CSK at the Chepauk and their best performer in that department has been young Rahul Chahar who is undertaking his maiden IPL campaign.
While Krunal Pandya is experienced, Chahar, Anukul Roy and even Mayank Markande are still fairly new to the big stage and their mentality will greatly tested in the play-offs.
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