Mumbai Indians’ character will be tested against Super Kings


Chennai : It will be a test of character for Mumbai Indians who will be going into their Champions League T20 opener against title holders the Chennai Super Kings here Saturday without Sachin Tendulkar who is still to recover fully from a toe injury and seven other regulars.

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Though Mumbai Indians have been permitted to field five foreigners in their playing eleven due to the extraordinary situation they are in, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to match the Super Kings who have no injury worries, but perhaps facing a problem of plenty.

Despite the brave pronouncements emanating from the Mumbai camp, Tendulkar’s absence will be felt as the maestro was the forefront of the team’s fairly successful campaign in the 2011 Indian Premier League.

In contrast, the Super Kings are at full-strength and cushioned by the fact that they won all their seven home games in the IPL earlier this summer, and look to maintain the win-spree. The fact that they play all their four Group A games at home is to their advantage.

The Mumbai Indians are only too aware of the Super Kings’ home track record and look quite fortified to meet the onslaught. However, a lot would depend on how skipper Harbhajan Singh would deploy and employ the resources at his command.

Last season, a lot of talk centred on their big-hitting Trinidadian import Kieron Pollard whose prowess, it was argued, was under-utilised by failure to send the big man up the batting order. This time around, Mumbai fans hope that Pollard’s talent would be put to better use.

Besides Pollard, Mumbai hopes also rest on Ambatti Rayudu who was among the team’s batting mainstays last season, all-rounders Andrew Symonds and Tirumalasetti Suman, yorker specialist Lasit Malinga and the free-scoring Aiden Blizzard. Thus, on the face of it, the visitors appear well-equipped to face any challenge, but they are up against a team that is in peak condition.

The Super Kings, bolstered by the presence of their inspirational captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, present a picture of balance and all-round strength. Although their bowling was often the butt of criticism in the past, the likes of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and left-arm seamer Doug Bollinger who played key roles in the team’s run of success that began last year with a double and the 2011 IPL crown.

With opener Michael Hussey in top form and enjoying an enduring partnership with Golden Bat winner Murali Vijay, backed by Suresh Raina, Dhoni, Subramaniam Badrinath, Aniruddha Srikkanth and all-rounder Albie Morkel, the Super Kings batting line-up appears quite awesome.

Their bowling too came of age earlier this year when left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati, Sri Lankan off-spinner Suraj Randiv lending excellent support to Bollinger, Morkel and Ashwin, winner of the Golden Ball award at the 2010 Champions League.

Thus, the Super Kings start off as hot favourites and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they live up to the tag, even granting the vagaries of T20 cricket.