IPL 2023: Moments that will decide GT-MI Qualifier-2

Five-time winners Mumbai Indians are on a high after thrashing Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator, but as they now face Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad, the defending champions can well be considered favourites going into Friday’s Qualifier-2.

Hardik Pandya’s team missed the first chance to make the IPL final when they went down to Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk and will hope that home advantage works for them this time. They will also be buoyed by the fact that they beat Mumbai Indians by 55 runs when the two sides met at the Narendra Modi Stadium in the league phase.

But Rohit Sharma’s side have clicked into gear since then, winning six of their eight games since. In the return fixture against the Titans at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai Indians prevailed by 27 runs. If not for Rashid Khan’s heroics with the bat at the end, things would have looked a lot more one-sided.

Based on previous encounters, here’s where the game may be decided:

The Battle of the Batmen: Shubman vs Surya

Both may be completely different in the way they play and the positions they come in to bat at. However, both have been the embodiments of their team’s batting approaches this season and have been key to their respective sides’ progress.

Shubman Gill has contributed 27.69 percent of the total runs for Titans this season: 722 at a strike rate of 149.17. The best part about his batting has been that the youngster hasn’t appeared to be breaking sweat while scoring all these runs. There have not been any innings throughout the season where he has played a shot in anger. It has all been about sublime cricket shots, hard running between the wickets, and excellent temperament.

If Gill’s tune has been a melody, Suryakumar Yadav’s has been heavy metal. He has scored 544 runs at a mind-boggling strike rate of 183.78. Coming in the middle order, he has often turned games on their heads. He has scored 19.61 percent of Mumbai Indians’ runs, and opposition bowlers have been clueless in curbing his onslaught.

The Titans have already suffered at his hands when he smacked a ton against them earlier in the season. If he gets going on Friday, it would be an uphill task for Titans to restrict Mumbai’s batting juggernaut.

The Tale of two struggling captains

Both Rohit and Hardik Pandya have been astute on the field and made some brave decisions along the way. However, when it comes to personal form, both of them are having a season to forget. They have shown glimpses of what they can do from time to time but nothing on a consistent basis.

Rohit, while opening the batting, tried to play an attacking brand of cricket and tried to lead from the front, setting the template for his players to follow. However, this method has not yielded him a lot of runs. He has scored 324 at an average of 21.60 and strike rate of 133.33. How he tackles Titans’ pace spearhead Mohammed Shami will be fascinating to watch.

Hardik – who has batted at three for a big part of the competition – has struggled to make an impact with the bat either. He has scored 297 runs at 27 with a strike rate of 130.26, and has not bowled at all in the last few games.

However, both players have the capability of winning games of cricket on their own on any given day. If either gets going on the night, they can turn the tide in favour of their side significantly.

Who can hit more sixes?

Ahmedabad has seen 123 sixes hit this season. It has been one of the easier grounds to clear this season. However, batsmen in the early overs have struggled to cope with the seam moment. But they seem to make up in the final stages of the innings.

Both these teams are filled with power-hitters. However, Titans have been lingering near the bottom of the table with the number of sixes they have hit in the tournament (102) whilst Mumbai is right at the top with 133 sixes.

However, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Titans prefer to consolidate at the top and set it up for their finishers. On the other hand, Mumbai have played with fearlessness and taken on the bowling right from the word go.

On a six-hitting ground, Mumbai are likely to have the upper hand on this metric.

The Battle of leg-spinners

Given the number of right-handers in the Titans’ top order, Mumbai has played left-arm chinaman Kumar Kartikeya in both games between the two teams. However, he didn’t have impressive outings in either game. However, Kartikeya is expected to play a part in Friday’s clash because of the match-ups. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla has been the best bowler for Mumbai with 21 wickets at a miserly economy rate of 7.76 this season.

On the other hand, Titans have their set of leg-spinner and left-arm chinaman set in Rashid Khan and Noor Ahmed, with the Afghan duo rattling opposition middle orders with their guile and deception picking up 39 wickets between them this season.

This might be a key battle in the middle overs of the innings. Whoever deals with the spinners better might have the edge.

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