It will be a sort of an upset if Rajasthan Royals is able to beat a rampaging Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday despite Steven Smith’s fantastic start in this IPL.
Arguably, Mumbai has an edge in terms of proven game-changers (6) in the playing XI than Rajasthan’s (4) especially since their all-rounder Ben Stokes will be unavailable for selection despite reaching UAE because of quarantine protocol.
While Rohit Sharma’s team will be aiming for a hattrick of wins which no team has managed in this tournament so far, Steven Smith’s team will be desperate to avoid the suffering of a hattrick of losses (like Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab have).
Supremely powerful vs miserably powerless
Even if Royals’ Ankit Rajpoot does a Sandeep Sharma to Rohit Sharma (average of 3.5 and a strike rate of 64 with 2 dismissals in 4 outings) in the powerplay because of his fine record in the past, Mumbai won’t be bothered too much like the last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad when they lost their captain in the first over.
This is as much due to the presence of many skillful batsmen in the top-order as much due to Royals’ poor show with the new ball in the powerplay overs. Just 2 wickets in four matches during power-play overs are not going to put any fear in opponents even if Jofra Archer happens to be in the rival camp. MI will try to exploit Royals’ worst economy rate (8.5 runs per over) in this phase.
Death over destroyers vs. surprising hitters
“We look at us (him and Pandya brothers) as the engine room in the car. Without the engine you can’t move. We need to go there, put the speed on and up the run rate, some days it will happen some days it won’t but when it gets off, we have to make sure we make it count. Just petrol, clean petrol,” thundered Pollard after the MI’s last match.
The statement is neither a sign of bravado nor arrogance. You really don’t need any data to accentuate the fact that in Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya MI has a very versatile middle/late order which can take care of big-hitting as well as rescue acts depending on match situation.
In comparison, Rahul Tewatia, Archer, Tom Curran and Mahipal Lomror can be simply dismissed as non-threat but numbers tell a incongruous tell this season as the foursome have been getting nearly 13 runs per over in the death overs.
Dependent on inspiration vs. Indifferent to struggle
Luckily, Royals’ captain Smith can take some inspiration from his personal record against Mumbai (scored most runs, most fifties and a strike rate over 150) and also the recent one on one battles with Mumbai (they have been triumphant in last four consecutive matches).
Contrastingly, Mumbai can simply shrug off the struggle of its most potent bowler Jasprit Bumrah’s uncharacteristically high economy rate of 8.8 RPO( shockingly 11 sixes been taken off his bowling)this season.
Likely XI Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler (wk), 2 Steven Smith (capt), 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Robin Uthappa, 5 Rahul Tewatia, 6 Mahipal Lomror, 7 Ankit Rajpoot, 8 Tom Curran, 9 Jofra Archer, 10 Shreyas Gopal, 11 Jaydev Unadkat
Likely XI Mumbai Indians: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (capt), 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Ishan Kishan, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 James Pattinson, 9 Trent Boult, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
(Vimal Kumar is a senior sports journalist who has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. Vimal is also the author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide.)Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here