The stage is set for Mumbai Indians (MI) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) to lock horns against each other for the first time in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Rajasthan is fast fading from the qualification race and in order to make a comeback, the franchise would be looking for someone to take the responsibility and pull off a few miracles.
As the two teams gear up for a day encounter at Wankhede, here’s a look at how they have fared in the tournament so far. MI has been on a role in their last three matches and is placed third on the table with eight points.
While they defended a small total against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), the team recorded their highest ever successful run chase (198) to beat Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) by three wickets last time.
Mumbai also registered a comfortable win against arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings (CSK). In six games thus far, they have won four and seem to be in a positive frame of mind.
On the other hand, Rajasthan Royals, seventh on the table, is still looking for their second win of the season. The ‘Men in Pink’ lost their most recent match on the final ball as Ben Stokes was struck for a six by CSK’s Mitchell Santner. The English all-rounder conceded 21 runs and as a result, the team has only one win and five losses.
West Indian duo and MI stars Kieron Pollard and Alzarri Joseph, who came up with two match-winning performances in the team's last two home matches, will be the key players to watch out for.
Meanwhile, skipper Rohit Sharma is expected to return as he was rested due to a leg muscle spasm that he suffered during training. In case Sharma isn’t fit, Siddhesh Lad might retain his place.
There’s also a possibility that Ishan Kishan, who replaced Yuvraj Singh, might open the innings and Yuvi might get another opportunity in the middle-order.
MI’s death over specialists Jasprit Bumrah and Australian pacer Jason Behrendorff along with Joseph can rip apart any good batting line-up on their day. The bowling department for MI has been performing very well in the season on average.
However, they were a bit expensive in their last match against KXIP as they gave away too many runs. Against a struggling RR side, there can be some reasonable expectations for a better result.
And don't forget the Pandya brothers! You never know what Hardik and Krunal will do with the bat or the ball when MI is playing. Their contribution to the team is vital as they have essential roles to perform.
The previous meeting between these two teams in last year’s IPL saw RR win comfortably against Mumbai as Jos Buttler played a scintillating 94-run knock. But this time, with five losses in six matches, the franchise seems to be under immense pressure.
RR's batting line-up, including skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Steve Smith and Jos Buttler will need to mend their ways and help the team post a huge total against a formidable Mumbai team.
Buttler, Smith and Ben Stokes will soon be leaving the RR camp to prepare for the World Cup. From Rajasthan's perspective, the management would want them to get a few wins under the belt before they depart.
17-year-old Riyan Parag had a decent IPL debut and is expected to keep his place in the team. Despite their narrow loss against CSK on Thursday, RR is likely to retain the same team for this away fixture.
Pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni along with spin-twins Shreyas Gopal and Parag would have to deliver for their skipper if they want to survive the conditions and make it to the Playoffs.
With Wankhede being one of the highest scoring grounds this season, the bowlers will have to be precise in terms of executing their skills.
Head to Head: 21 (Includes two Champions League T20 matches)
Mumbai Indian: 11; Rajasthan Royals: 10
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Kieron Pollard, Jason Behrendorff, Suryakumar Yadav, Quinton de Kock (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Yuvraj Singh, Alzarri Joseph, Krunal Pandya, and Rahul Chahar.
(If Rohit isn’t fit then Ishan Kishan comes in and Pollard becomes the skipper)
Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Jos Buttler, Steven Smith, Sanju Samson (wk), Rahul Tripathi, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, and Dhawal Kulkarni.
(Featured Image: FB/RR)
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