New Delhi: The rain on Friday afternoon left a handful of die-hard cricket fans at the Kotla a disappointed lot. They waited in vain for more than an hour to watch Sachin Tendulkar at the nets, but the Mumbai Indians cancelled their the practice session.
They would return with renewed hopes on Saturday night, when Mumbai Indians meet Sunil Narine’s Trinidad and Tobago in the second semi-final of the T20 Champions League. As the Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma had said the other day, everyone is looking forward to an impressive innings from Tendulkar.
A star-studded team, the IPL-VI champions have done exceedingly well in the tournament so far. They began with a loss against Rajasthan Royals. But thereafter, Mumbai won every game including the must-win tie against Perth Scorchers on a difficult track at the Kotla.
Equally dramatic was Trinidad and Tobago’s entry in the last four. Almost on the verge of being ousted, they pulled off a shock win over mighty Chennai Super Kings in the concluding group encounter.
It was a commanding performance as they skittled out Chennai for 118 and won by eight wickets.
In Saturday’s game, Trinidad and Tobago would look to spinner Sunil Narine to give them an upper hand on the slow Kotla track. Their coach David Williams agreed Narine would be a vital cog in the wheel for the Caribbean side.
“We know what Sunil can do and the opposition also knows him,” Williams said. “They always look to play out his overs and hope not to give him wickets. His overs are crucial and put pressure on the batting team. They then try to take advantage of the other bowlers and lose wickets in the process.
“Having a guy like Sunil in the team puts a lot of pressure on the opposition because they know he will pick up wickets or go for very few runs,” said Williams.
“Sunil’s job is to pick up wickets as well as contain the batsmen. He is so good and bowls a lot of dot balls. But he could have a bad day, so we need to make sure the others are ready to take on the mantle,” he added.
The Caribbean side are exceptionally strong in bowling. Ravi Rampaul, Samuel Badree and Narine – played in the World T20 final for the West Indies and bowled 12 overs among themselves.
Add to that Rayad Emrit and Lendl Simmons, who had Chennai Super Kings on their knees only a couple of days back.
Mumbai coach John Wright, on the other hand, was confident his batsmen would face no problem in handling the mystery spinner, who plays for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. “We just have a very good batting line up,” said the Kiwi. “We have played Kolkata twice this last IPL and I was very impressed with the way the boys played Narine.
“We respect him but we have got some outstanding batting talent. We don’t have any special plans for him. He would be under pressure to perform and hope we can put more pressure on him,” Wright added.
All said and done, Mumbai Indians are a more balanced side and would start favourites to make the final. While their batsmen like Dwayne Smith, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu have always come good in times of crisis, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pragyan Ojha and Glen Maxwell have remained equally successful with the ball.
Rohit’s innings of 51 in 24 balls against Perth Scorchers was an ideal T20 innings. Coming after the fall of two quick wickets, the Mumbai captain hammered the Perth bowling all over the park. Not to be outwitted, Smith and Pollard also launched an attack that only displayed the depth of the Mumbai Indians’ batting.