CLT20 preview: Sternest test of Mumbai Indians' batting might against Trinidad and Tobago
With Mumbai, that strength was in their big-ticket players, the ones Justin Langer called 'Mumbai's superstars', spread across the batting and bowling departments, though it must be said that there are more big names in the batting order than among the bowlers.
Dark clouds and intermittent showers of varying intensity - always among the worst fears for teams, tournament organisers and fans alike.
New Delhi had both, a day before the Champions League Twenty20 2013 semifinal between Mumbai Indians and Trinidad and Tobago at Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday (October 5), enough to curtail the T&T practice session and force Mumbai to call off theirs altogether.
But those were not things either team could plan for. The only thing they could think about is what they needed to do if a full game was played and as far as that was concerned, both Mumbai and T&T had their focus on their respective strengths.
With Mumbai, that strength was in their big-ticket players, the ones Justin Langer called 'Mumbai's superstars', spread across the batting and bowling departments, though it must be said that there are more big names in the batting order than among the bowlers. For T&T, however, most of the force was with the bowling attack, which had made the job of their batsmen simpler than it would be otherwise.
Mumbai's batting roster read Dwayne Smith, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Glenn Maxwell, Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu. Tendulkar hadn't done much in the ongoing tournament, nor had Karthik, but everyone else had. And the big-hitting prowess showcased by Smith and Rohit, as well as Maxwell and Rayudu to a lesser extent, in the game against Perth Scorchers on Wednesday would make any opposition wary.
Indeed, T&T must be among the very few teams that would back itself to take on that batting line-up and come up trumps, and that's because of the names in their bowling attack. Ravi Rampaul, Samuel Badree, Rayad Emrit, Lendl Simmons and, crucially, Sunil Narine, possibly the world's No. 1 bowler in the format, were all part of the mix and all of them had done their job well enough in the tournament.
The outcome of the match then could well depend on what happens in the 20 overs of the Mumbai innings, whether it took place first or second.
Not that the Mumbai bowlers or the T&T batsmen are spring chickens - if they had been, their teams wouldn't be where they are.
For Mumbai, the wickets have been shared, and all of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Harbhajan Singh and Rishi Dhawan have returned impressive economy rates, though Pollard and Pragyan Ojha have been expensive. Similarly, among the T&T batsmen, Evin Lewis and Darren Bravo have been the standout performers, while the team has got contributions from Simmons, Denesh Ramdin and others when needed.
All of which made this a difficult match to call. Mumbai had the more impressive roll call of players and wore the badge of defending IPL champions, but there were a few things one should not forget about T&T. One, the low and slow Delhi pitch was perfect for them, something David Williams, the coach, harped on ahead of the game. Two, they had consistently punched above their weight in the tournament and had reached where they had despite the Indian teams taking away Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Kevon Cooper from their ranks. And three, they topped their group and they did so by making the Chennai Super Kings batsmen look pedestrian.
Importantly, the last of those factors could become most significant, because the playing conditions stated that in case of a no-result in a knockout game, the team with more wins in the group stages would go through. The forecast for Saturday was for more rain, and in the event of even a curtailed match not taking place, T&T would make the final because of their superior group stage record.
One must, of course, hope it doesn't come to that. If the match happens, that Mumbai innings could make for riveting viewing.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Ambati Rayudu, Aditya Tare, Rishi Dhawan, Abu Nechim, Akshar Patel, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Smith, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell.
Trinidad and Tobago:Denesh Ramdin (capt, wk), Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Darren Bravo, Jason Mohammed, Sherwin Ganga, Nicholas Pooran, Sunil Narine, Rayad Emrit, Ravi Rampaul, Samuel Badree, Navin Stewart, Adrian Barath, Khesan Yannick Ottley.