Five-time champions Mumbai Indians will take on Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) in an another high-voltage encounter in the Eliminator of the IPL 2023 at MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday.
When the two teams met last time in the ongoing season, newcomers LSG triumphed over the five-time champions and so the Rohit Sharma-led side will be aiming to return the favour this time around and settle the score.
Notably, the Chepauk wicket is traditionally known for helping the spinners, hence the focus in the Eliminator will be on the tweakers of both teams.
Both LSG and MI have quality spin bowlers in their ranks and all eyes will be on the veteran MI spinner Piyush Chawla.
Former India cricketer Harbhajan Singh has hailed the 34-year-old leggie, who has been nothing short of a revelation in the ongoing season due to his penchant for outfoxing even the best of batters in the competition.
Speaking on Star Sports Studio, Harbhajan Singh said: “Piyush Chawla’s wicket-taking software is amazing. This guy is awesome. He has troubled the veterans of every team with his spin. I am very happy for this player because, in the last season, he was not considered useful by any team. This season it has told every team that there is no replacement for experience. There is no match for this player.”
Former India cricketer Mohammed Kaif also lavished praise upon the leg-spinner from Uttar Pradesh for doing the bulk of the damage for his team in this competition and said: “Chawla has taken half of the wickets that Mumbai has taken so far. This is a champion bowler. As if taking wickets on the very first ball in every match has become his habit. Chawla has proved that there is no substitute for experience. He has stability in his deliveries and has been impressive on all types of wickets. His impact this season has been solid.”
Meanwhile, focus will also be on Mr 360-degree Suryakumar Yadav – who has set the tournament on fire with his electrifying performances with the willow.
Former India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar praised the Mumbaikar for his batting effort this season however, also cautioned him to make those subtle changes in his batting to prevail on the spin-friendly Chennai track.
“SKY is outstanding. Look at the big stride he takes when it comes to playing such agricultural shots. However, he needs to plan his game better on slow and turning pitches. He’s going to be crucial for MI in the Playoffs games. Remember, the first couple of playoff games are going to be played on a slow Chennai track.”
Significantly, in the absence of regular captain KL Rahul, senior cricketer Krunal Pandya has performed well for Lucknow, making good use of the conditions and players at his disposal.
Harbhajan recknoed that the way the senior of the Pandya Brothers rotated the spinners will bode LSG well on slow Chepauk tracks.
“Credit to Krunal Pandya for rotating his bowlers well. It was the highest quality of spin bowling from LSG against KKR. Hat’s off to the spinners for bowling with courage in the middle overs and under tough situations. Good signs for them ahead of Playoffs as Chepauk is good for spinners.”
Meanwhile, former India cricketer Yusuf Pathan also showered prais on LSG mentor Gautam Gambhir for showing faith in Nicholas Pooran despite his initial struggles in the season and the senior West Indies batter is returning the favour with consistent performances this season.
“Gautam Gambhir showed his faith in Nicholas Pooran’s potential. Nicholas Pooran is finally proving his mettle in IPL in this tournament because of the backing and support from LSG team management.”