Depleted Mumbai need to raise bar against Somerset

October 7th, 2011 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar Chennai, Oct 7 (IANS) Having narrowly squeezed through to the semifinals, the depleted Mumbai Indians need to perform at a much higher level if they hope to beat qualifiers Somerset in their Nokia Champions League T20tournament here Saturday.

A late blitz by Lasith Malinga took Mumbai past a tottering Chennai Super Kings who until then had the game under control and then barely survived to beat Trinidad and Tobago chasing a target of 99 for their two victories in Group A.

A washout against the Cape Cobras in Bangalore fetched them a crucial point before they went down to New South Wales Blues in their final Group A fixture to finish with five points and then had an agonising wait for other results to learn of their progress to the semifinals.

On the other hand, Somerset topped Group B with victories against the Kolkata Knight Riders and Warriors, before receiving a point from their No-Result with South Australian Redbacks and ending their Group campaign with a defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore.

On paper, both teams appear evenly matched though Mumbai are rather depleted due to injuries to as many as eight of their regulars, notably Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel. Yet, they have shown great character to grind their way to the semi-finals with a combination of luck and unlikely heroes.

Mumbai’s chief concern at the moment is the total lack of form of two of their key foreign players, Andrew Symonds, who is a pale shadow of his former self and woefully short of match fitness, and Kieron Pollard, barring a top score of 58 in the washed out game against Nashua Cape Cobras, seems to have left his heavy bat back home.

Worse still, Pollard is said to have suffered an injury Thursday, though as yet there is no official word on the nature of injury or, for that matter, whether it will prevent the West Indian all-rounder from participating in the semi-final.

Mumbai would be hoping that Pollard would be fit on the morrow, but then others also need to step up their game, individually and collectively as the team has not consistently excelled with the bat or the ball in the manner of a champion side, but profited on some timely breaks to progress thus far.

Considering that Somerset had to get through the qualifying competition, reaching the semifinals of the main draw is certainly a fine achievement and a tribute to their all-round strength besides the smart, if not spectacular, cricket they have played so far.

In fact, though short on collective international experience, skipper Alfonso Thomas of South Africa, apart from his restrictive but effective seam-up bowling, has marshaled his resources quite well, to somewhat compensate for the lack of aura around the team.

The pitch conditions would again play a decisive role and the result would hinge on the ability to adapt, something that defeated even the home team, Super Kings. Given the relative strengths and merits of the team, the contest is likely to be a battle of attrition, if nothing else.

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