Mumbai face stinging Cobras

Batting remains a concern as Indians look to book semis berth

looking to click The efforts of Kieron Pollard (foreground) and Andrew Symonds (right) will be crucial for Mumbai Indians when they take on Cape Cobras on Friay. DH PHOTOA clutch of frontline players have succumbed to injuries, top-order batsmen including fearsome hitters like Andrew Symonds and Kieron Pollard have hardly made a ripple and bowlers have been patchy. Still, they are on top of Group A with two wins from as many matches.

At Chennai, they were spiraling towards defeat against Chennai Super Kings, and it required the unlikely willow of Lasith Malinga to save them. At the Chinnaswamy stadium, they flirted with disaster against Trinidad & Tobago before Denesh Ramdin’s error earned them a last-ball victory.

Now, they are up against the dangerous Cape Cobras on Friday. The South Africans have some serious talent in their ranks like Dale Steyn, Jean-Paul Duminy and Herschelle Gibbs, who still wields a bruising willow at 37. The Cobras showed a lot of spunk in their opening match, shocking title-favourites New South Wales Blues.

They could have scripted another massive win, but for Steyn’s erratic 19th over against Super Kings on Wednesday. There could be little doubt that the Indians are up against daunting opposition, and nothing short of a forceful effort will help their cause. Their propensity to leave the fate of the match till the last moment could only bring disaster against the Cobras.

Their top-order carries considerable strike power despite the injury-forced absence of Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma, but they perforce need to find a way to fire. None of their top-order batsmen has crossed the 50-run mark, and Malinga’s unbeaten 37 against the Super Kings remains their highest individual score in the tournament so far.

It’s not that Mumbai batsmen had to see off some inspired spells, but elementary mistakes led to their downfall in the previous matches, adding huge pressure on the bowlers.

Stand-in skipper Harbhajan Singh will be hoping his batsmen to strike form against the Cobras, and certainly he wouldn’t like to get involved in another nerve-wracker. Now, the Mumbai outfit carries with it an image of fluke-winners, getting out of jail by sheer luck.

They need a commanding performance against the Cobras to shed that tag, and also for the team to breathe a collective sigh of relief after two tense affairs.

Their bowlers too need to be consistent. The Indians had a good game with the ball against T&T, bowling them out for a sub-100 total. But in the previous game, the Mumbai bowlers showed a frail side when the Chennai batsmen came hard at them in the death overs. So, they need to phase out that inconsistency when they meet Cobras, the hub of some very good batsmen.

Having said that, Cobras too have their own riddles to solve. They looked a solid team against New South Wales, playing aggressive cricket to restrict the Blues to 135. They hunted down the target in determined fashion with a good number of overs to spare, showing signs of a well-knit team.

But Chennai exposed a few malfunctions in their system. Cobras had comfortably led the race just a few centimetres from the tape, but Steyn’s surprisingly nervous penultimate over tilted the balance decisively in favour of the Super Kings. They will be eager to prove that stuttering against Dwayne Bravo was a mere aberration with a strong outing against the Indians. A thriller is certainly on the cards.

 

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