The Mumbai Indians are facing the TINA factor. A shock loss to Highveld Lions in the opening game has put them in a spot of bother. Needing a win in at least two of their remaining three games now to keep their chances alive for the last four stage, the IPL runners-up must win their game against South Australia Red Backs here on Tuesday.
A strong team, Mumbai were touted as among the favourites to lift the title but their supposedly strong bowling lineup let them down as skipper Sachin Tendulkar lost the plot shuffling his bowlers without a plan and failing to utilise two of his best bowlers' full quota of overs. Sachin Tendulkar the batsman tried to make amends, but Mumbai still landed nine runs short.
On Tuesday, there will be no place for any such goof-ups, especially with the Red Backs having pocketed a win against the Lions. If the team management decides to use Ryan McLaren for just one over in the game, they're probably better off using the services of all-rounder Dwayne Bravo. Also, Saurabh Tiwary is a must add to the Mumbai line-up ahead of even JP Duminy. Tiwary has the strength to send the ball a long distance and even though Duminy has the home experience, he's not the player to take Mumbai home.
Mumbai's batting is in good shape with Tendulkar himself in great form and this is really the time that Ambati Rayudu, who ran himself out cheaply, and Tiwary to show their mettle. A performance here could well propel them in the scheme of things for the 2011 Cricket World Cup.
Mumbai's worry will be their bowling. But if Zaheer can keep his cool and not give away 17 runs in an over again, Mumbai do have the firepower to rein in any team. Lasith Malinga is among the best in business and Harbhajan Singh too can sting it for Mumbai. With Bravo and Kieron Pollard, expect a lot of change in pace and they can be tricky customers to deal with.
The Red Backs, on the other hand, will be bouyed with their win over the Lions. Captain Michael Klinger hit a brilliant 78 off 67 balls and his early dismissal is crucial for Mumbai's success. Apart from Klinger, Callum Ferguson and Graham Manou are the other two capable of changing the equations in a jiffy.
The big question mark though is on their ability of managing strong partnerships. Even in the last game it was Klinger who anchored the innings and a quick collapse at the top will put them under considerable pressure.
The bowling though looks good. One can expect scorching pace from Shaun Tait, who picked up three wickets in the game against the Lions. Daniel Christian too produced some timely breakthroughs, but Gary Putland was not that economical and Mumbai must target him and upset his rhythm early.
Left-arm spinner Aaron O'Brien does have a good record in the KFC Big Bash, but it will be quite a challenge for him to bowl to a team that can play spin with their eyes closed. Mumbai are definitely not unbeatable, but if Tendulkar the batsman can lead rather than Tendulkar the captain, the game will definitely be a one-sided affair.