Mumbai:With stand-in captain Harbhajan Singh in fresh controversy and a big question mark still there on Sachin Tendulkar's availability, winless Mumbai Indians will be under tremendous pressure against Deccan Chargers of Hyderabad in a battle for survival in the Indian Premier League on Sunday.
While the hosts were already struggling to open their account after three matches in the Twenty20 extravaganza in the absence of regular captain Tendulkar, who is nursing a groin injury, Harbhajan Singh added to their agony as he allegedly slapped rival pacer S Sreesanth after immediately their match against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali on Friday night.
Harbhajan has been slapped with a show cause by the BCCI, asking why action should not be taken against him.
How the Reliance Industries-owned Mumbai team management handles this controversy and whether Harbhajan can be continued to be given the important mantle of captaincy in the likely absence of Tendulkar are other issues facing the squad ahead of the tie against Hyderabad, especially with Andrew Symonds presence in the rival ranks.
A repeat on-field confrontation between the Indian off-spinner and the Aussie all rounder, after their infamous racism-row, would be the last thing that would be looked forward to by the two team managements and right-thinking cricket fans.
Mumbai opened their campaign at the Wankhede Stadium against Bangalore's Royal Challengers came a cropper and then missed a victory over Chennai in the latter's backyard before being embarrassed by the Punjab King's XI at Mohali last night.
In batting, the Mumbai top-order, with Sanath Jayasuriya heading it, has not fired in unison and this has resulted in the team's bottom order trying to salvage the situation, but
to no avail.
The bowlers too have not come up to scratch with only Shaun Pollock, to some extent, and the under-scrutiny Harbhajan looking capable of stemming the run-glut from the opposition ranks.
With Deccan Chargers also not able to win a point still, both the teams would be eager to put it across one another and kick-start their tepid campaign under lights at cricket's state-of-the-art stadium in the satellite township of Navi Mumbai, just across the harbour.
Hyderabad are struggling to gel as a team with retired Australian great Adam Gilchrist yet to provide value for the huge amount of money invested in him by the team owners Deccan Chronicle.
Captain VVS Laxman has also not yet shown that the national selectors were wrong in repeatedly ignoring his claims in the shorter forms of the game.
The team would be heartened by the getting-into-groove of the big-hitting Symonds, who powered his way to a century in their previous tie against the Shane Warne-led Rajasthan Royals but ultimately spoiled his show with his poor last over which was feasted on by Warne a couple of nights ago.
The Hyderabad team's attack looks slightly more balanced and penetrative than the home team.
In short, both teams have problems aplenty confronting them ahead of their important clash to break the victory drought in the Twenty20 championship on the wicket prepared by pitch experts from South Africa.
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (captain), Harbhajan Singh (stand-in captain), Sanath Jayasurya, Luke Ronchi, Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Shaun Pollock, Dwayne Bravo, Abishek Nayar, Saurab Tiwari, Musavir Khote, Dhawal Kulkarni, Ashish Nehra, Ankit Chavan, Sidharth Chitnis, Gaurav Dhiman, Dominic Thornely, Manjish Pandey, Rajesh Pawar, Ashwell Prince, Rohan Raje, Pinal Shah (wk), Swapnil Singh, Yogesh Takawale (wk), Vikrant Yeligati.
Hyderabad Deccan Chargers: VVS Laxman (captain), Sanjay Bangar, Halhadar Das (wk), Herschelle Gibbs,Scott Styris, D Kalyankrishna. Adam Gilchrist (wk), Pragyan Ojha, Dwaraka Ravi Teja, PM Sarvesh Kumar, Shahid Afridi, Rohit Sharma, RP Singh, Chamara Silva, Andrew Symonds, Chaminda Vaas, Venugopal Rao, Paidikalva Vijaykumar, Arjun Yadav, Nuwan Zoysa.