Pushed to the bottom of the table following their fifth defeat in six outings, former champions Mumbai Indians will look to keep their chances alive when they face a resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad in a crucial Indian Premier League game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.
The Mumbai team presented their fans a glimmer of hope after outclassing Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 19 in Bengaluru to end their dismal four-defeat streak.
But that appears to have been a false dawn considering the manner in which they slumped to a 37-run defeat against Delhi Daredevils, who thus snapped a nine-match losing streak at home on Thursday.
A lot of work, in re-jigging of personnel and strategy, remains for bottom-of-the-table Mumbai Indians before they confront the Sunrisers, who have gathered themselves from a stuttering start to occupy the fifth position on the points table.
Captain Rohit Sharma justified the chopping and changing of the playing eleven in the previous matches, but Mumbai have failed to come up with the right answers.
R Vinay Kumar and Pawan Suyal, who opened the bowling in Mumbai’s first home game against Kings XI Punjab on April 12, were left out of Thursday’s game at the Ferozshah Kotla.
One of them, at least, appears to have earned the right to bounce back after the dismal show against Delhi Daredevils by Jasprit Singh Bumrah, who was preferred ahead of Vinay and Abhimanyu Mithun, who is yet to play a game.
The bright spot for Mumbai Indians in an otherwise gloomy bowling scenario is the generally good show put up by their key men -- Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh -- after a dismal start against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8.
It's in finding the other bowlers to share the workload that Mumbai, looking for their first win at home this season after making it their fortress last year, have yet to get it right. There are issues with the seam attack after the pull-out of Australia's Josh Hazlewood.
New Zealander Mitchell McClenaghan, who has been given the all-rounder's slot off late has impressed only in patches.
Meanwhile, Corey Anderson, another Kiwi in the squad, has been ruled out of the tournament with a finger injury.
The batting looks in better shape with Rohit leading the charge, but could also look to improve instead of relying mostly on one man in big run-chases.
Hyderabad have also not exactly set the league on fire and have issues over their batting.
With two half-century partnerships and a century stand in the games that they won or nearly won (against Daredevils), openers Shikhar Dhawan and captain David Warner have been the stand-out performers for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The duo, though, haven't been supported enough by the middle order, where Ravi Bopara, Kane Williamson, Ashish Reddy, Lokesh Rahul and Naman Ojha have been patchy, at best.
The Sunrisers have a potent bowling attack, even though South Africa's pace spearhead Dale Steyn, who replaced New Zealand left-armer Trent Boult in the last two games, is yet to fire on all cylinders.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and his senior UP colleague Praveen Kumar have also been just about adequate up front, but both frontline spinners Karn Sharma and Parvez Rasool have struggled for wickets so far.
They have only newly-inducted left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma (in place of Laxmi Ratan Shukla) as the other viable option in their squad to utilise a wicket that generally offers extra bounce and turn.
The squads (from):
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Ambati Rayudu, Abhimanyu Mithun, Aditya Tare, Parthiv Patel, Kieron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Marchant de Lange, Pawan Suyal, Shreyas Gopal, Lendl Simmons, Pragyan Ojha, Mitchell McClenaghan, Aiden Blizzard, Akshay Wakhare, Nitish Rana, Sidhesh Lad, Hardik Pandya, Jagadeesha Suchitch, Unmukt Chand and R Vinay Kumar.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Naman Ojha, Kane Williamson, Dale Steyn, Moises Henriques, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Trent Boult, Parveez Rasool, Karn Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashish Reddy, Ricky Bhui, Chama Milind, Praveen Kumar, Hanuma Vihari, Prasanth Padmanabhan, Siddarth Kaul. Bipul Sharma.
Match begins at 4:00 pm