Defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in match number nine of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in match number nine of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday. MI went down to RCB in a close game in the opener of IPL 2021 and then fought back from behind to stun Kolkata Knight Riders. As for SRH, they have got off to a disappointing start in the tournament, losing two close games to KKR and RCB respectively. They would be desperate to get first points on the board. With MI taking on SRH on Saturday, we look at three player battles to watch out for.

  1. Suryakumar Yadav vs Rashid Khan

MI batsman Suryakumar Yadav has been in excellent form for the franchise in the IPL so far. Yadav eased his way to 31 off 23 against RCB and smashed 56 in 36 against KKR. He has taken on the bowling and has come out on top more times than not. Although he hasn’t converted his knocks into big innings, there is no reason to believe Yadav will change his batting style going into the clash against SRH. If anything, he can work on his shot selection and cut down on the premeditated part.

One thing is for sure. Pace or spin, Yadav will take on the bowling. If he is around in the middle and end overs, he is likely to come across SRH leggie Rashid Khan. The Afghan bowler, on expected lines, has been SRH’s best bowler on show thus far. He claimed 2 for 24 against KKR and 2 for 18 against RCB. Khan has given literally nothing away while claiming crucial wickets. Can Yadav break the Khan code?

  • David Warner vs Jasprit Bumrah

SRH skipper David Warner looked out of sorts against KKR but was back to his usual self against RCB. He eased his way to 54. Till he was at the crease, SRH looked in control of the chase against Bangalore. He played fast bowlers without any trouble and did not seem in any problem against the slow bowlers as well. Once he threw his wicket away to Kyle Jamieson though, SRH crumbled and came second best in a chase. Warner will be keen to correct his mistakes in the game against MI.

Considering how heavily SRH are dependent on Warner in the batting department, he will be again expected to get the team off to a confident start. At the top of the innings, he will come up against the tough challenge of Jasprit Bumrah. The MI pacer, like every year, has been tough to get away. In the match against KKR, he bowled superbly at the death to keep MI’s hope alive against the odds. If SRH want to do well against MI, it would be crucial for Warner to win the battle with Bumrah.

  • Kieron Pollard vs T Natarajan

MI big-hitter Kieron Pollard is yet to hit his straps in IPL 2021. He was wonderfully undone by Harshal Patel in the game against RCB. Versus KKR, he was smartly outfoxed by his West Indian teammate, Andre Russell, who forced him to edge a wide delivery from round the stumps. Teams would feel they can get the better of Pollard by either taking off the pace or not bowling in his arc. At the fag end of the career, the West Indian limited-overs captain thus faces a new challenge.

Pollard most often comes in to bat at the slog. As such, he is most likely to meet T Natarajan at the other end. Though India’s new bowling sensation hasn’t done anything spectacular in the IPL so far, he has been successful in finding the yorker-length delivery more often than not. Pollard is someone who is capable of converting block-hole length deliveries into boundaries. The question is, does he have the confidence? And, if he does, how will Natarajan respond?

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