If there is one team Mumbai Indians (MI) would love to beat in the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) tenth edition, it would be Rising Pune Supergiant. Their neighbours from Pune have got the better of their big city cousins on both occasions this term. MI skipper Rohit Sharma would have a dual target in the Qualifier 1 on Tuesday – to beat RPS and make it to the final. The Mukesh Ambani-owned franchise has everything going for it – from in-form players to playing at the Wankhede Stadium. But the only factor going against Mumbai is history.
Mumbai, with 20 points from 14 matches, finished on top of the table. The advantage of finishing in the top two hands teams two shots to get to the final. Hence, a team that finishes in the top two has more than a solid chance of making it to the final.
Interestingly, team that has finished at the top after the league stage has never won the cash-rich league. Mumbai will have to defy history in order to capture their third IPL title.
Pune, who finished second with 18 points, will probably be thrilled to learn that since the play-offs were introduced, team at the number two position has always walked away with the title barring the 2016 season.
A look back at the history of the IPL finals since 2011
2011: RCB (1) vs CSK (2) – Winner CSK
2012: KKR (2) vs CSK (4) – Winner KKR
2013: CSK (1) vs MI (2) – Winner MI
2014: KXIP (1) vs KKR (2) – Winner KKR
2015: CSK (1) vs MI (2) – Winner MI
2016: RCB (2) vs SRH (3) – Winner SRH
RPS had begun the IPL 2017 with a fine seven-wicket win over MI and looked like being the team in form, along with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
However, both sides then looked a little wobbly as they went up and down erratically, with RPS looking more so.
Steve Smith would be extremely relieved to have had an easy last league match against Kings XI Punjab, which ended up being a knockout match.
But now that his side is in the Qualifier 1, he faces a stern test, that too without key players like Ben Stokes and Imran Tahir, who have left to join the England and South Africa teams.
Mumbai on the other hand have no real issues since they never really invested too much into fresh players for IPL 10.
RPS will have their task cut out at the Wankhede. All the cards seem to be in MI’s hands for now. Barring the history card.
(With inputs from PTI)