You would be able to observe a few changes to my team as compared to the one in the previous article, courtesy the shortened first fixture. I didn’t want to waste my spots on a 10-over-a-side fixture for obvious reasons; as a result, the likes of Jehan Mubarak, Sachith Pathirana, Trent Boult and Kane Williamson made their way out, paving way for Ahmed Shehzad, Wahab Riaz, Ambati Rayudu, and Kieron Pollard to come in. It sort of cancelled out, you can say. But, this way, I had improved the likelihood of my players succeeding.
On another day, with only two overs to bowl, Boult wouldn’t have picked up two wickets, but Riaz, on the other hand, always had 4 overs to prove his case. As discussed in the previous article, Kane Williamson opening the innings turned the match in the Kiwi team’s favour, completely nullifying the spin threat that the Islanders posed coming into the game. Smart move that, Knights.
With both Mumbai Indians and Lahore Lions possessing a potent spin duo, the odds are stacked in favour of Williamson staying at the top, which nails one spot for us. With the Lions playing back-to-back fixtures, I pulled in Umar Akmal at the cost of Kushal Perera. The move was actually necessitated after the news of Corey Anderson being dropped came in: a surprise but well-thought-out move from the star-studded think-tank, for a change. Considering the absence of their captain Rohit Sharma and the advantage of having someone like Kieron Pollard down the order, they needed someone to anchor the innings (read: Michael Hussey) more than they needed a big-hitter (read: Corey), a suspect one against off-spinners at that.
Hussey looked as good as he has ever been and was well on his way to justify his selection before a jaffa from Wahab Riaz got rid of him. Expect more runs from Mr. Cricket if his franchise manages to travel the distance; however, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him being dropped, as the result wasn’t in favour of the Mumbai-based side. He was in no way responsible for the loss, but that is how the defending champions roll. For a case in point, consider last IPL season where Praveen Kumar was dropped the very next match after he made the season’s second leading run-getter Dwayne Smith look like a fish out of water in a group stage match.
Northern Knights v Lahore Lions
Transfers made – 3; Transfers remaining – 10
Ambati Rayudu out – Kane Williamson in
Praveen Kumar out – Trent Boult in
Kieron Pollard out – Nasir Jamshed in
Again, being left-handers, Anton Devcich and Daniel Flynn will have to be extremely fortunate to get past the off-spin trap that will be set by Mohammad Hafeez and Adnan Rasool, which rules them out. Williamson is their messiah; he has to carry the innings through and hope the Pakistanis lose their plot in the death overs for the big hitters to cash in.
I don’t expect great things from Daniel Harris coming down the order; however, he is already in my team and will continue to be till the end of this fixture. Scott Styris hasn’t made anything of note in the last 10-odd innings – scores read 4*, 10, DNB, 19, 29, 44, 9, 11, 3, 9 – and always has the risk of being demoted in favour of Daryl Mitchell, which makes both of them not worthy of a consideration.
Tim Southee, who suffered in the hands of Kushal in the tournament opener, has never impressed me as a T20 bowler, while Trent Boult will give a very tuff time for the Lions’ top order in the first few overs. I hope he gets a few cheap wickets at the death, as well.
Lions’ fortunes largely depend on how their top 3 fare. Key is to get past the Powerplay overs, nullify the new ball threat posed by the Kiwi quicks and launch into the likes of Ish Sodhi, Styris and Devcich. Can the duo of Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad do it? Boult will have the final say. Flynn would do well to be not silly and try sneaking in Devcich’s left-arm spin early on; he would regret later if he attempts it.
The younger Akmal, if sent in at the right time, could take the game away. Hafeez, on the other hand, is expected to be amongst runs and wickets, as well.
With Umar, Hafeez and Shehzad already in my team, I would bring in Jamshed, as well. It may look like an overkill, but you never who could come off and there are way too many transfers to be used, as well. In addition to all these, I don’t see many other players who demand an inclusion. The southpaw looked in good touch and is up against a below-par bowling line-up with the exception of Boult.
Captaincy pick: Mohammad Hafeez
Mumbai Indians v Southern Express
Transfers made – 2; Transfers remaining – 8
Umar Akmal out – Kushal Perera in
Daniel Harris out – Michael Hussey in
(If Mumbai bat first, Kieron Pollard will be taken in; however, it involves some chopping and changing)
It is hard to see the match going beyond the top 4, with both the Mumbai Indians’ openers potent enough to take on the toothless bowling attack of the Lankan domestic T20 champions. Kieron Pollard could have a field day if the team bats first and he gets some time at the crease. With Jalaj Saxena being tried at No.3 and Aditya Tare in top 4, Ambati Rayudu could have a diminished role, yet again, unless the big bucks lose too many wickets at the top like it turned out to be against the Lions.
With Malinga being taken for plenty in the first match, I expect him to be back on track, economy wise. Unless the Express batsmen go in chase for runs at the death, wickets could be hard to come, though, as the Lankan batsmen would have faced him quite a number of times back home or at least know a trick or two to tackle their country’s leading limited overs bowler.
Praveen, if plays, could swing a couple of batsmen out, while Bumrah is a long shot if you need a differential.
Expect the Express captain Mubarak to help himself to a 30+ score at 110 SR before perishing in an attempt to up the ante. Kushal needs to be circumspect in the first four with the ball doing its fair bit; else, he would be digging himself a big hole against the Indian quicks. If he comes through, the match would be interesting.
Danushka Gunatilaka looked at home against spinners, but I don’t see him as an option worth considering, otherwise. Not everytime you struggle your way through the seam bowlers to make it big against the slower bowlers.
Captaincy pick: Lasith MalingaPublished 14 Sep 2014, 09:36 IST