Rajasthan Royals. Image: IPL/BCCI/Twitter
Going by their form, the second game of October 25 between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals is hardly a contest. Mumbai Indians are sitting on top of the points table and Rajasthan are a rung above the bottom. The 44th match of the Indian Premier League 2020 being played in Abu Dhabi will decide if Rajasthan will go into the playoffs.
For that to happen, they will have to beat Mumbai Indians. Do the Royals have a bowling attack to keep Mumbai’s batsmen, who have scored nearly 9.3 runs per over, quiet? Do their batsmen have it in them to withstand MI’s hostile bowling attack that has conceded the least runs—at below 8 an over—this season? The answer is no.
Not much has changed since the first clash
Mumbai were the firm favourites when the two sides meet on October 6 and the result was as expected. Mumbai beat Rajasthan to become the first team to register a hat-trick of wins and Steve Smith’s side couldn’t avoid third defeat in a row.
The losing streak has continued. Rajasthan come into this match after losing three of their last four games. Mumbai, on the other hand, have lost only one of their five matches.
“Our destiny is probably in other teams’ hands now and as for us, we need to keep believing, our challenge is seven wins and we’ll try to give our best to achieve that,” Royals’ head coach Andrew McDonald whose first season with the franchise is turning out to be a disappointment.
Mind the gap
Mumbai are an infinitely superior side to Royals and only Jofra Archer can walk into the Mumbai XI. Such is the embarrassment of riches that Mumbai have remained unaffected by the absence of captain Rohit Sharma and can also afford not to bowl Hardik Pandya or even rest couple of match-winners. On the other hand, RR’s is desperately waiting for some runs and wickets from its biggest match-winner Ben Stokes, who has been ordinary with bat and is yet to take a wicket.
RR’s complicated approach
Rajasthan have tried five different opening combinations and have surprisingly moved Jos Buttler to the middle order, a decision which has not gone down well with mentor Shane Warne.
“I think Buttler should definitely be opening,” Warne told Sky Sports' IPL Cricket Show in the UK. “I think Ben Stokes can do a job opening the batting, but I would like Ben in the middle overs—that's where he has played all of his cricket and done really well,” said the former Australian captain who led Rajasthan to its only IPL triumph in 2008.
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Robin Uthappa, 2 Jos Buttler, 3 Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), 4 Steven Smith (captain), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Jofra Archer, 9 Shreyas Gopal, 10 Ankit Rajpoot, 11 Kartik Tyagi
Mumbai Indians: 1 Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), 2 Ishan Kishan, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Saurabh Tiwary, 5 Kieron Pollard (captain), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
(Vimal Kumar has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. The author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide can be reached @Vimalwa on Twitter) Follow our full coverage of IPL 2020 here.