DUAL INTERVIEW with Nikhil and Johns – IPL 5

Mumbai Indians have struggled to put up a good opening partnership, will that be a concern for them going into the finale?

Nikhil – Not so much but they will want Rohit to come good on the big day. He will be up against a side who have a few who will bother him but let’s hope Rohit does come off.

Johns – I don’t think it’s a big issue for Mumbai Indians, if Rohit gets out, De Kock will and it continues till Krunal Pandya at 7 but MI will be more dangerous once Rohit scores and no better way than captain leading the way with the bat in the biggest match.

It will be Quinton de Kock vs his South African mates Rabada and Nortje, how will this battle pan out in your view?

Nikhil – I expect the Mumbai opener to come out on top. Of course, both KG and Nortje can do the trick but the challenge will be to face Ash well for Quinton.

Johns – I believe Iyer and Ponting will bring Ashwin early against De Kock as he plays fast bowlers so well. So the matchup might be between Ashwin vs De Kock.

Do you feel Suryakumar Yadav taking the game deep as suggested by the captain, one of the reasons for his success this year?

Nikhil – I think SKY has shown the ability to handle pace really well this season and he has always been a good player of spin. The concern was middle overs batting and this season he has paced his innings to perfection on most occasions so that has been very beneficial for Mumbai.

Johns – Suryakumar Yadav has been like bridge between Rohit – De Kock and the engine room of Mumbai Indians with Krunal, Pollard and Hardik. His consistency has been a deciding factor for Mumbai Indians and the way he striking given extra licence to Ishan at four.

The three P’s of MI in their middle order – Keiron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya, can they sustain their hitting ability against this DC bowling unit?

Nikhil – To be honest, it has only been Pollard and Hardik. And Pollard had a blip last game. And the Delhi pacers didn’t bowl the right lengths to Hardik and were hit along. Expect them to do the homework and then the battle will be worth watching.

Johns – The Pollard – Hardik – Krunal is the engine room of Mumbai Indians, extra pace could work for the opposition but so far against DC – Mumbai Indians has been successful but if they can get the line & length right in final it will be still a deciding factor in the match.

Praveen Dubey just got two overs in which he went for 14 against SRH in 2nd qualifier, will DC stick with him for the finals as well?

Nikhil – Yes I think they will. Not every day, you have Axar bowling that many overs. Mumbai have quite a few LHB in Quinton, Kishan and Krunal and that will mean Axar will find it harder to bowl his four. So expect Dubey to play.

Johns – Praveen Dubey had a good matchup against Rohit in the Powerplay but the bigger question will be will DC start with spinners from both ends as Ashwin vs De Kock and Praveen Dubey vs Rohit Sharma? It will be interesting to see how they use Dubey today.

Promoting Stoinis up the order, should DC continue to use him as an opener for the finals?

Nikhil – Yes, given the times and the situation, they should continue to do that. The form of Dhawan is key though. You need a good start on the big day more than any other day. Look how badly SRH began after the drop from Holder, they never really recovered and were always catching up in the game.

Johns – I think they will continue with Stoinis, he had success in BBL and in qualifier 2 so there is nothing to break a fixed thing in the side but during league stage one of my wishes was to use Pant as the opener and giving him the comfortability spot of using the PP advantage but it’s too late to make a change.

Shikhar Dhawan has 603 runs in 16 matches with an average of 46, and in the first qualifier Bumrah got the better of Dhawan, how do you think the battle will pan out in the finale?

Nikhil – That was also the first time Bumrah got rid of Dhawan and it was a good ball. I expect Dhawan to be positive and maybe, just maybe they may not take too many risks in the first 2/3 overs especially if batting first.

It will be difficult for Iyer and Pant, who have struggled to find consistency throughout this season, to get going against this MI bowling unit?

Nikhil – The start is the key. If they get a start like that, Iyer can’t play another run-a-ball knock. He has to remain positive or get out and make use of the batting resources they have. That said, Hetmyer’s knock was crucial for Delhi. So expect Iyer and Pant to not play major roles like say a Stoinis, Dhawan, Hetmyer. Iyer and Pant may have to come in and rebuild for others to hit out. So hope they do that well.

Johns – Iyer had issues in the format especially in IPL but was covered by the form of Pant but with Pant having a tough time giving DC lots of worrying sign throughout the tournament. Rahul Chahar had success against Iyer and MI will use match-up of Bumrah against Pant if DC can break that strategy with sending Hetmyer early and Pant down it can give space to one of them to face Krunal or Pollard at some point.

Bumrah – Boult duo have been a headache for batters throughout this season, what can DC batsmen do to counter this bowling combination?

Nikhil – New ball spells are always tricky especially when it is moving a bit. A lot will depend on what they are doing. They have to access the conditions well and play as they did yesterday vs SRH, respect the good balls but once you are in, go after the others. Have to mix caution with aggression.

Johns – Stoinis factor will play a big role against the Powerplay champion Boult, if they can survive that spell then it can make inroads in the Mumbai Indians, they still have a weak link in the bowling unit.

What do you think the captains should do after winning the toss?

Nikhil – Too early to call it. Mumbai have defended totals well, Delhi have twice failed chasing so they may also want to bat first. If it is a fresh deck, they can bat first and free their batsmen from the pressure of chasing but you have to do whatever you do well. You can’t win a knockout if you don’t do both things wrong.

Johns – Both teams will be looking to bat first, that has been their strength in most cases through the tournament and with not much dew factor in Dubai I believe batting first might be ideal.

Do you feel it will be a high scoring contest or a low scoring one considering it’s the finals?

Nikhil – I expect it to be a 160/170 game. And depending on whoever gets a stronger launchpad batting first, we might see the extra 20 run cushion coming in. But overall, expect it to be a 160 game like most finals usually are.

Johns – Finals pressure will be there but still the average score in Dubai has been around 160-170 so the same might happen in the final.

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