The Titans are coming off a 15-run loss to Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier while the Mumbai Indians thumped Lucknow Super Giants by 81 runs to enter the second qualifier.
While the Titans have been consistent, with 10 victories in the league stage for the second consecutive season, they were undone in the first qualifier at Chepauk by Dhoni’s leadership guile.
The move to chase backfired with opener Shubman Gill unable to get the requisite support from the middle-order batters, with captain Hardik Pandya, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia and Vijay Shankar all failing together.
The bowling unit too looked a little clueless when wickets were elusive in the Powerplay overs. Despite a fightback in the middle overs by the spinners, they weren’t able to keep CSK down to a chaseable total.
Mumbai Indians, meanwhile, have gone from strength to strength after an indifferent beginning to their campaign. The absence of premier pacer Jasprit Bumrah and injury to Jofra Archer opened up chances for the likes of Akash Madhwal, who has risen to the occasion, and Chris Jordan.
IPL 2023 | MI vs GT | Mumbai’s Ultimate Showdown Against Gujarat for Spot in the Finals
Madhwal’s 5/5 is the best bowling figures in an IPL knockout clash, emulating Anil Kumble’s feat in 2009. Both the teams have beaten each other once, with the Titans prevailing by 55 runs here and Mumbai Indians returning the favour at Wankhede by 27 runs.
The stage is set for an intriguing clash. TOI looks at the key matchups and factors at play:
Mumbai openers vs Shami
When the two teams clashed here MI bowling coach Shane Bond said the Titans gave them a bowling masterclass in the Powerplay. Shami and Pandya denied scoring opportunities and created pressure, which resulted in wickets.
The spinners then sustained the momentum, which contributed to an easy triumph. How Ishan Kishan and captain Rohit Sharma go about their business against Shami & co. could well decide the momentum.
Suryakumar vs Rashid
The form of Suryakumar Yadav has been vital to the resurgence of MI. In the initial phase of the IPL, SKY’s form was shaky, which led to indifferent results for this team.
His uptick in form has coincided with MI’s climb to the top four of the table. How he goes about his business against the Afghan duo could very well decide the middle overs.
Green vs Mohit
Mohit Sharma’s ability to go about his work in a silent manner has meant GT haven’t missed the services of Lockie Ferguson, who left them ahead of the mini-auction this season, and West Indian Alzarri Joseph, whose bowling hasn’t been up to the mark.
How Mohit bowls to the MI middle order comprising Green, Varma and Tim David will tell which way the match swings.
Gill vs Madhwal
Gill and Saha have provided solid, stable starts but the latter has not gone on to make a significant contribution. With Madhwal grabbing the opportunity in Bumrah’s absence and GT not having played against him, it will be a test for both the batters against the MI new-ball bowlers.
Pandya vs Chawla
Pandya’s batting has been a little out-of-sorts in the last few matches. He needs to raise the bar along with David Miller, Vijay Shankar, Rahul Tewatia and Dasun Shanaka if GT are to reach their second straight final.
But it won’t be easy against the likes of Chawla, who is third in the list of top wicket-takers. He has 21 wickets in 15 matches at an economy rate of 7.75. Jordan and Green have provided the bowling heft, which was lacking early in the season.
Watch IPL 2023 Qualifier 2: GT take on MI in a virtual semi-final