CLT20 2013: Preview

Semifinal #2: Mumbai Indians v/s Trinidad & Tobago

Ferozshah Kotla, Delhi
 
Path to Semis-
 
While the Mumbai Indians had to depend on the Royals to do them a massive favour and beat Otago before thumping the Scorchers themselves, T&T had things in their hands. The only team from the Caribbean had an equation that was relatively straightforward in order to pip the Titans: Do not lose to CSK heavily, or win against them. It looked simple enough, but with Dhoni’s marauding team in their final year together, it was better said than done. 
 
On the eve of the last group stage matches- where 2 semi final slots would be decided by the teams playing in Delhi (MI and T&T played back to back matches), it seemed highly improbable that MI would qualify. They weren’t looking good throughout the group stages, and Sachin continued to be a problem at the top. On the other hand, T&T qualifying seemed like a big IF too- they were expected to scrape through on run-rate with their destiny in their own hands. 
 
By the end of the night, surprises galore- MI destroyed Perth to pip poor Otago to the semi finals. The Volts would feel hard done by after a tournament that served notice to the world about their T20 abilities. And even more shockingly, T&T not only qualified, but beat CSK to the top of the group! A lackluster terrible performance by CSK made sure that T&T got the relatively easier semi-final match of NOT having to face the Royals at home. 
 
But then, facing Mumbai Indians on a pitch that had them scoring at 12 an over in the previous game isn’t particularly easy either. 
 
Today, T&T will be proud to be the only non-IPL team in the semi finals, and rightly so- after all, they belong to a world champion T20 nation. The Australians and South Africans tanked badly in this year’s CLT20, with Otago being the other standout team. MI are lucky to be in the semis, but captain Rohit Sharma will be delighted to face T&T in Delhi- a much better prospect than facing Royals at Home.
 
By the time these two teams play eachother, they will know who awaits them in the final. 
 
 
Trinidad & Tobago-
 
This is the team that took the 2010 CLT20 by storm. A player named Kieron Pollard rose from the Ashes to destroy New South Wales in the group stages, and the team attained instant fame, led by Darren Ganga. Those days are gone, and after a tough few non-qualifying years, T&T are back stronger- without Pollard and Bravo (playing for MI and CSK respectively), but with a motley bunch of players that form an effective unit. Lendl Simmons at the top has been a revelation, and Darren Bravo has been their power player. With Brian Lara as mentor, the team doesn’t need a Gayle or a Pollard to depend on. Their real strength has been their bowling strength- Narine, Badree and Rampaul. The little-known Emrit was wrecker in chief against CSK, and restricting a Champion team like that to less than 120 is no child’s play. The group toppers will fancy their chances against the Mumbai top order- with Sachin and Karthik woefully out of form. 
 
X-factor: Dinesh Ramdin. The captain holds his team together behind the stumps, and has played a powerful leadership role to get them so far. A top order collapse is imminent, and Ramdin is the team’s most experience batsman. 
 
Mumbai Indians-
 
 
The 2011 winners find themselves in their second CLT20 semi final. When they had won their game against the Scorchers to assure their place in the semis, commentators had already declared a MI v/s CSK semi final. There was apparently zero probability of T&T thrashing CSK and overtaking their net RR. But it happened, and now, a Rohit-led Mumbai would want to cap off their most successful franchise year with a final appearance. They claim they want to do it for Sachin, but it would be in their best interest if Sachin sits out and lets them play will 11 players for a change. His best days are gone, and he will serve better as mentor like Ponting smartly did in the IPL this year. They made a gutsy decision of dropping Johnson in the previous game for Coulter-Nile, and it paid off. Their biggest mistake so far has been Maxwell, and not giving him an opportunity to shine. With Malinga injured, it has been Ojha, Rishi Dhawan and Harbhajan leading an Indian attack- but putting up lackluster fielding performances. Harbhajan has been expectedly poor, and is on his last legs too. He can’t seem to buy a wicket. 
 
X-factor: Rohit Sharma. An explosive innings against the Scorchers got his team through to the semis. He will prefer chasing any score on this pitch, but has to be careful with only the two West Indians able to give him company at the crease. 
 
Prediction:
MI could pull through, chiefly because Smith and Pollard are used to tackling Narine and Rampaul in the nets back home. 
 

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