IPL 10 Playoffs Preview & Prediction – Are Mumbai Indians favourites & can KKR overcome recent poor form?

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Are Mumbai Indians favourites & can KKR overcome recent poor form? Shruti Chopra speaks to Suneer Chowdhary about the first qualifier Mumbai Indians v Rising Pune Supergiant and the eliminator Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders. Have a listen to their conversation right here or read excerpts of their conversation below.

The play-offs are upon us and we now have our top four teams in place – Mumbai Indians, Rising Pune Supergiant, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders. Would you have picked these four to be at the top at the start of this IPL season?

I would have picked Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata & Hyderabad, but it’s not just picking teams based on what happened at the auction but to do with 1. selection during the tournament, 2. fitness issues, and 3. players missing out due to national commitments. Example of Gujarat.​

Why don’t we begin by talking about the first qualifier – Mumbai Indians facing the one team that has beaten them both times they’ve met, the Rising Pune Supergiant.. why has Pune managed to get the better of them?

You mean apart from batting, bowling & fielding better…

Well that’s exactly my point, why have things gone wrong for Mumbai against Pune.

Jokes aside, it’s a format that allows such results, but in those specific games, Pune had game-changers at different times during the matches – Tahir & Smith in their first meeting and then Tripathi, Stokes & even Unadkat despite a costly overall spell stealing the games away…

In Mumbai’s last league game, they made six changes of which Ambati Rayudu got man-of-the-man, for his 63 off 37 and he did keep fairly well – what does Mumbai do now – keep him on and let Parthiv Patel sit on the bench for this one or keep Parthiv and swap with another?

​Or there’s a third option and that is to bring both of them in & drop Rana and Saurabh Tiwary.​ Parthiv Patel – third highest run-getter, done a good job opening, given starts, not converted. but he can be expected to do a job with Simmons. Then again, Rana has been excellent too although his form tapered off last few games – so a really tough call. Tell you what, had Rohit been opening the innings, or even opened in a few games, I would have called for Parthiv & Rohit to open and for MI to even play just three overseas players.

Three overseas players for an important game like this…what would your XI be?

Again, this is only had Rohit opened the innings for a few games but, here’s what could still happen: PP, Rohit, Rayudu, Rana, Pandya, Pandya, Pollard, Harbhajan, McClenaghan, Bumrah, Malinga/Johnson

Let’s look at their opposition, Rising Pune Supergiant. Their investment in Ben Stokes really paid dividends, but that investment now expires – he’s off to England now. Who would make way in the team for Stokes? And what sort of tactical changes will they need to make?

​No Ben Stokes, no Imran Tahir and if you look at what the two of them have done, it will be a huge couple of gaps to plug. Tahir picked up 18 wickets in the tournament at 20, Stokes had 13 wickets to go with 300 plus runs. Sense of senior statesman too. And it will be difficult for them to lose these key players…Adam Zampa is in many ways a like for like replacement for Tahir, but has played just four games this season. Khawaja and Ferguson – two possible replacements. If Ferguson plays, the batting gets weakened because you have a Dan Christian coming in at six and an out of touch MSD at five, which forces the top four to do most of the work.

Other option is to bring in someone like Baba Aparjith who is primarily a batsman who can bowl some, and probably drop Washington Sundar and bring in Lockie Ferguson to bolster their attack in the absence of Stokes. That’s what the absence of a good all-rounder does, makes a captain tear his hair in an attempt to get the XI right.

​​Who would be your pick for this first qualifier at Wankhede?

​Despite Pune’s 2-0 record against Mumbai this season, it’s hard to see the Mumbai Indians lose to a Stokes-less and a Tahir-less Pune side at home.

I believe Mumbai will need to really push themselves and take risks towards the end for this game to go their way, whereas Pune will need to get a but more aggressive with their batting to challenge the Mumbai bowlers. It seems like quite a battle. So the team that should be off to Bengaluru for the 2nd qualifier should be Pune…!

So you’re going

Yes it’s tarot advantage Mumbai Indians

The next one is the eliminator on Wednesday in Bengaluru on a pitch that has favoured the bowlers more this IPL – it’ll be Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders…. both teams pride themselves on their bowling don’t they?

​You could say that but I also believe Kolkata is a complete team, have batting ​riches not too many others can boast of in the form of Gambhir, Lynn, Uthappa, Pandey…

…and even Narine?

​And​ even Narine this season although bowlers look to have found what to do with him at the top of the order. One fifty in the last seven games and no other score of even 20 in them, which could push the the Knight Riders into re-jigging things around a bit.

We will get to that in a bit, Hyderabad had a good start to the league games and then there was a wave of inconsistency – we’ve spoken about this in our videos too, but with most of the games over, has their reliance on Warner been too much? If he fails against Kolkata, will the entire team struggle again?

​In a tournament this long, there will always be those phases when things go up and down…
Warner top scorer, but even Dhawan has 468 runs. Henriques has chipped in, so has Kane Williamson…Hyderabad have lost five games in the tournament, and Warner’s scores in those five games have been 49, 26, 43, 30 and 40 – by any stretch, very good T20 scores. It’s just that in those games, the others have struggled to get going – three games lost to poor batting and two were down to their bowling.

​Warner has the Orange Cap and even more importantly, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been leading the pack for quite a while with the most wickets,​ and the Purple Cap – good times Hyderabad there…

…and good times for India heading into the Champions Trophy. 25 wickets at 14, an economy-rate of less than seven is wonderful stuff. He has bowled with the new ball, he’s picked up wickets at the death and stalled the run-flow as well, and will be interesting to see how he does at Bengaluru where the surface has been slower and two-paced – might make it even more difficult for the batsmen to score off him if he can get his variations right.

​Before we speak about Kolkata facing Hyderabad – I have to ask you – why were KKR adopting RCB type tactics against the Mumbai Indians on Saturday?! They were nicely ahead of the run rate but it seemed like they had ants in their pants!

​An angry Gautam Gambhir lambasted his team for looking to chase down the 170 odd runs in 10 or 12 overs…it was a shoddy performance – you use the words ants in pants, it was like a rolling stone down a steep hill without any brakes. I think it could have been to do with Kolkata’s lack of confidence – they have lost four out of their last five games and were going into that Mumbai game with a defeat at the hands of Punjab where they tried to chase down a similar score as against Mumbai in a more traditional way and still lost. And all of sudden from being almost certain of a top two berth, they are down to playing an Eliminator, lose this and out you go.

This season, both teams have lost to each other when they have chased and that to by healthy margins of 17 and 48 respectively – do you think they will want to bat first at the M. Chinnaswamy?

​Haa, interesting one​. Hyderabad don’t mind batting first as we saw in the IPL final last season and even this year, they have won five of their eight games batting first. Kolkata will enter this match with four defeats from five games, of which three have come batting second. Plus you add this Bangalore surface, where it’s 3-3 in terms of teams winning batting first or second plus the pressure of a knock-out game – the only thing that needs to be seen is the dew. If there’s some, might see the team opting to chase, else, bat first and put the pressure on.

Now for my final question before we end this podcast, who will stay in Bengaluru for the 2nd qualifier Suneer – who will win this one – Sunrisers Hyderabad or Kolkata Knight Riders?

​Bit of six of one or half a dozen of another for me here but I am going to go with the Knight Riders.​

My favourite team here is actually the Kolkata Knight Riders too, but with a heavy heart, I’ll have to say it’s tarot advantage Sunrisers Hyderabad because they’ll just manage to be more consistent with the bat and ball.

Coming Soon: IPL Preview & Prediction – Qualifier 2

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