Former champions Mumbai Indians would never have imagined that they would be in a fight to save their elimination from IPL 8 so early in the tournament. But, with five losses from six matches, they clearly are struggling to stay alive in the event. Their batting, which has plenty of star power, has failed to deliver. In the bowling as well, on Harbhajan Singh and Lasith Malinga have made an impression. Sunrisers Hyderabad themselves haven't been very good. But, they have fared better than Mumbai, managing to win a couple of games, including the rain- curtailed encounter against Kolkata, which would have given them confidence.
It has been said to death in previous previews that Mumbai need their batsmen to fire, the top and middle order in particular, as the lower order has been pulling them out of tough situations consistently. It all came together for them in the heavyweight clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore, when Unmukt Chand, Lendl Simmons and Rohit Sharma came up with significant knocks. However, it all fell apart against Delhi Daredevils as their batting stumbled again. With Corey Anderson ruled out for Mumbai, they will need skipper Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard to lift their game.
Mumbai's bowling will need to show significant improvements as well. So far, it has all been about Malinga and Harbhajan. They have been two of the most consistent performers. And, in the one game that both fired in tandem, Mumbai managed to pull off their only victory. The rest will need to chip in as well though. Jasprit Burmah has been easily torn apart while R Vinay Kumar and Pawan Suyal have been in and out of the team. Mitchell McClenaghan has done well, but only in phases.
Sunrisers will be glad to have tasted a victory against Kolkata Knight Riders in the rain-curtailed game. Like Mumbai, they too have been overly dependent on a few players. David Warner especially has stood out for them, leading from the front. He has batted in cruise control mode, and it was again his innings against Kolkata that stood out. He has been well supported by Shikhar Dhawan even though the latter hasn't been in the best of nick in the tournament. They would be aided to a great extent if some of the others can chip in.
What would please Sunrisers no end is the fact that their bowling stood up to Kolkata's challenge in the last game. Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were particularly brilliant under conditions not conducive to bowling. The others surprisingly haven't been as effective. Both Dale Steyn and Trent Boult have been tried, but neither has stood out. In the spin department, Karn Sharma has failed to deliver. They would still be confident having defeated Kolkata, but Mumbai should believe they have a chance.
--By A Cricket Analyst