IPL: Mumbai Indians to take on Gujarat Titans might in vital IPL clash
IPL: Mumbai Indians to take on Gujarat Titans might in vital IPL clash

Mumbai Indians are likely to be tested to the hilt by table-toppers and defending champions Gujarat Titans in a vital Indian Premier League match here on Friday. For the first time in this IPL, 5-time winners MI have looked promising as they rose to the third spot in the points table with a sixwicket thumping of Royal Challengers Bangalore in Mumbai on Tuesday.

The manner in which MI thrashed Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), chasing 200 inside 17 overs, - highlighted once again how successful their batting has been, even though for the second consecutive game they reshuffled the order in a bid to push their net run rate. Despite their best batter and captain Rohit Sharma enduring a lean patch with five single-digit scores on the trot, MI's batting has been nearly unstoppable here at the Wankhede Stadium as they successfully chased a target of 200 or above twice in three attempts.Even against Punjab Kings,

Mumbai Indians replied with 201 for 6 while chasing 215. However, the issue for MI this year is not restricted to Rohit's form or the absence of Jasprit Bumrah or Jofra Archer, but their bowling which has conceded four consecutive totals above 200, and nearly did so versus RCB again. In the last three games here, opposition sides have raked up 214/8, 212/7 and 199/6, making the most of a flat wicket and perfect batting conditions -- something that GT would also like to target.MI's bowling did well against RCB to stop their charge in the middle-overs, but GT are not grappling with the issue of not having in-form batters lower in the order like RCB. Suryakumar's return to form is the biggest positive for MI, for whom the likes of Ishan Kishan, Cameron Green, Tim David and Tilak Varma have done the bulk of scoring. It remains to be seen if Varma is fit for the contest on Friday.

The contest could, however, depend a lot on how MI's free-flowing batters go against eight overs of spin from Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmad, who has thrived in the company of the senior Afghan.With eight wins in 11 matches, GT are on the brink of making it to the playoffs and be the first team to do so. Skipper Hardik Pandya and coach Ashish Nehra have successfully managed a conducive environment for the players who have flourished for the franchise this year as well, emerging as a strong contender for the title for the second year in a row. The highlight for GT is that they have not lost any of their away games and all three loses have so far come at their home ground in Ahmedabad.

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