IPL returns home bigger than ever

Mumbai: Virtually out of the playoff race and struggling on multiple fronts, a horribly out-of-sorts Mumbai Indians will need a special team effort to arrest their slide when they take on Lucknow Super Giants in a return-leg IPL fixture here on Sunday.

With seven defeats in as many matches, MI are winless this season and are languishing at the bottom with nothing going right for the five-time champions, who have failed to win the crunch moments and will need a miracle to make it to the playoffs.

Lucknow, on the other hand, have looked in good touch with four wins from seven matches but they are coming into the match after suffering a 18-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore.

However, the fact that LSG beat MI by 18 runs in their first leg will give them confidence.

MI have done well in patches but never looked as a unit, prompting former Australian batter Chris Lynn to stir speculations of a rift within the camp following their last defeat to Chennai Super Kings on Thursday.

The defeat also handed MI the dubious record of becoming the first team in IPL history to lose its first seven matches in a season.

Skipper Rohit Sharma too seemed clueless as to what is going wrong for the team.

“It’s hard to put a finger on anything, but we’re not starting well in the match. If you lose quick wickets, you’ll always be playing the catching game,” Sharma had said after their last match.

One of the reasons for MI’s downfall is the poor form of its openers Sharma and Ishant Kishan.

While both were out for a duck against CSK, Kishan has fared slightly better than his skipper, scoring 191 runs against 114 runs by Sharma.

Tilak Varma and Suryakumar Yadav have produced some good knocks, while young Dewald Brevis too shone in a few matches but a collective effort in the middle-order has been missing.

With just 96 runs, all-rounder Kieron Pollard has failed to live up to the expectations of the franchise, which decided to retain him.

In bowling, MI has mostly relied on Jasprit Bumrah even as the rest cut a sorry figure.

While Daniel Sams came good against CSK with four wickets, domestic veteran Jaydev Unadkat’s failure to defend 17 runs in the final over sums up their campaign.

The rest of the bowlers, including Tymal Mills, Basil Thampi or lead spinner Murugan Ashwin too have gone for runs aplenty.

Australia’s Riley Meredith and debutant Hrithik Shokeen had a decent outing but MI will have to produce a much superior effort to tame LSG’s formidable batting at Wankhede Stadium.

Lucknow’s batting has been led by skipper KL Rahul (265 runs), who had slammed an unbeaten 60-ball 103 the last time the two teams faced off on April 16.

He is the second highest runscorer this season. Other opener Quinton de Kock (215 runs) too has been in good rhythm.

While Krunal Pandya was the top scorer against RCB, young Ayush Badoni and Deepak Hooda couldn’t convert their starts and need to step up when the going gets tough.

In bowling, the pace-spin duo of Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi have served them well with LSG having the luxury of some quality all-rounders such as Jason Holder and Marcus Stoinis.

In the multi-talented duo, the new-entrants have two powerful players who add lot of depth in both bowling and batting.

The Teams (From):

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Anmolpreet Singh, Rahul Buddhi, Ramandeep Singh, SuryakumarYadav, Tilak Verma, Tim David, Arjun Tendulkar, Basil Thampi, Hrithik Shokeen, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Jofra Archer, Mayank Markande, Murugan Ashwin, Riley Meredith, Tymal Mills, Arshad Khan, Daniel Sams, Dewald Brevis, Fabian Allen, Kieron Pollard, Sanjay Yadav, Aryan Juyal and Ishan Kishan.

Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (c), Manan Vohra, Evin Lewis, Manish Pandey, Quinton De Kock, Ravi Bishnoi, Dushmantha Chameera, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mohsin Khan, Mayank Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Kyle Mayers, Karan Sharma, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ayush Badoni, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya, Jason Holder.

Match starts 7:30pm IST.

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