The second semi-final of the Champions League T20 at Delhi will see two contrasting sides battle it out for a place in the final. Mumbai Indians, considering the strength in their armoury, were always expected to make it this far. They almost didn’t, but picked up their game just when it mattered the most. T &T, on the other hand, is the only non-IPL team in the semi-finals. This gives us a fair indication of how well they have battled to stay alive. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for them, but they have found their way through.
Of the two teams, Mumbai would be heavily reliant on their batting while T&T will hope for the good performances from their bowlers to continue. This battle of MI’s batsmen versus T&T’s bowlers is what will make the second semi-final even more intriguing. Although Mumbai’s batsmen haven’t been as consistent as expected, they brought their A game to fore against Perth Scorchers in a do-or-die situation. The fact that most of their batsmen chipped in handsomely during the win would encourage Mumbai, and give them added confidence in the knockout clash against T&T.
Mumbai’s aggression against Perth was most impressive. It is clear that they are at the best when their batsmen attack. Opener Dwayne Smith is a crucial factor in this aspect. Ever since Mumbai have asked him to open the innings, he has been surprisingly successful. Smith often takes the attack into the opposition camp and gives the side the much-needed boost of quick runs at the start. It helps that he often carries on and registers a substantial score. Of course it would aid his cause if Sachin Tendulkar can contribute something. So far the veteran has been a liability in the team.
Among the other Mumbai batsmen, the contribution of skipper Rohit Sharma would be extremely crucial. Like Smith, Sharma has also been a consistent performer with the bat. Against Perth as well, he played a knock that was instrumental in Mumbai chasing down a tough target within the stipulated number of overs. The best aspect of Sharma’s game is that he finds the gaps at will without having to slog around. Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu have been given the tasks of putting the finishing touches on the innings, and they have done so with unabashed aggression.
Trinidad’s best chance of ousting Mumbai will be if two of their best bowlers stand up and deliver as they have done in this series. Sunil Narine, without doubt, will be the crucial man. He has again been the best bowler on show in a T20 event, and has been aided adeptly by Ravi Rampaul, who continues to impress further. Although batting is not their strength, their top order has fired with Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis getting among the runs. Darren Bravo is undoubtedly their most gifted batsmen and will be expected of fire on the big day. All said that done though, it might well come down to the battle between MI’s batsmen and T&T’s bowlers.
--By A Cricket Analyst