NEW DELHI: West Indies great Viv Richards believes that the contributions from youngsters across the Indian Premier League franchises in the ongoing season have been crucial to their performances and feels that in spinner Mayank Mrakande, Mumbai Indians have found their elixir.
Writing in his column for The Times of India today, Richards picked up Markande and Suryakumar Yadav as the two biggest positives for MI despite their run of defeats. “Contributions from young blood have been an important aspect in every team’s performance this season and the editions before,” he wrote. “Having said that, Mumbai have found an elixir with Mayank Markande, who has been outstanding with the ball just as Suryakumar Yadav has been with the bat, despite results not going the way of their team.”
Kings XI Punjab pacer Ankit Rajpoot became the first bowler this season to pick up a fifer when he returned figures of 5/14 against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday. Richards was pleased by his effort and praised SRH bowling attack which has now defended two low totals despite missing their lead strike bowler in Bhuvneshwar Kumar. “It was a pleasure to watch the way Punjab’s Ankit Rajpoot bowled against the Sunrisers, picking up the first five-for of the season. But again, Hyderabad’s bowling led by the sensation named Rashid Khan and a certain Siddarth Kaul, was something different. Remember, SRH have now won two low scoring games with their star pick Bhuvneshwar Kumar on the bench,” he wrote.
Today, Mumbai Indians face Chennai Super Kings in Pune and despite the contrasting results the two teams have endured so far, the batting great expects the contest to be a close one. The two teams kickstarted the 11th season with CSK recording a nail-biting one-wicket win at the Wankhede Stadium.
Since that match, CSK have climbed up to the top spot in the points tally while MI are languishing at the bottom with just one win from six matches. Richards feels CSK have found the perfect team combination which is why they are the current IPL leaders.
“It will be yet another classic battle when the league leaders Chennai take on Mumbai, who have not been at their best this season. Looking at the depth of both the squads on paper, it’s tough to pick a winner. MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma are great captains and they, as everyone knows, can turn the whole complexion of the league around in a few games with their team.”
“The eleventh edition of the IPL started with the same teams clashing in Mumbai and it went down to the wire with Chennai managing to sneak past the hosts with a ball to spare. That match was again a reminder to the world that the game of cricket is for the ones who are brave enough to take their chances. Neither Dhoni nor Rohit would have foreseen the current situation their teams are in, especially, the results Mumbai have had. It will be interesting to watch what strategies Mumbai look to adapt to, as they walk into must-win games from here ons, starting with Chennai tonight,” he wrote.