Dubai: Defending champions Mumbai Indians will look to redeem themselves against the Royals of Rajasthan when both horns lock at Arun Jaitley Stadium on Thursday.
Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai skipper, may want to rethink his ‘lose the battle, win the war’ strategy and go back to making sure his team plays the percentages, because that’s exactly what the five-time winners do not yet. Not all around, but certainly in some areas.
Their middle order seemed colder than lukewarm at best. In terms of bowling, Mumbai has been at the top of its game, but with low totals to defend, the blame cannot be placed on the bowling department.
It’s no secret that Mumba’s woes are compounded by the way the Middle Order has behaved so far. They are far from what they are clearly capable of and to put it as it is, only a few have managed to scratch the surface of their potential. The middle order has long been the backbone that led blue and gold to unprecedented success.
They have powerful hitters in the form of Ishan Kishan (73 points), Hardik Pandya (36 points), Krunal Pandya (29 points) and Kieron Pollard (65 points), but none have advanced so far.
Sharma set a good example and is currently seventh in the batting standings, with 201 after five games, averaging 40.2 and hitting 130.51. However, his opening partner and Mumbai wicket keeper Quinton de Kock is just 47 so far in four games. Suryakumar Yadav is Mumbai’s next prolific hitter with 154 points, but he too should have been closer to his skipper.
Mumbai have been doing themselves a disservice since winning two and losing just as many trotting. They are fourth in the table with two wins in five matches so far, the same as Rajasthan Royals, and lead in a four-team squad that is stuck on four points purely on the basis of a higher run rate. Rajasthan is currently seventh, but what the Royals have is momentum. And while Mumbai was outscored in their last game against the Punjab Kings by nine wickets, the Royals led by Sanju Samson outscored Kolkata Knight Riders by six wickets in their last outing.
Momentum can also be fleeting and the veracity of the momentum put forward by the Royals will be put to the test by Mumbai. Their bowling attack has looked a lot more powerful than the Royals overall, but their top bowlers Rahul Chahar for Mumbai and Chris Morris of Rajasthan each have nine scalps so far, with Chahar providing a better economy of the two.
Mumbai bowling has been far superior with Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah shooting all cylinders so far, especially to death. Jayant Yadav was thrifty, but with the wicket favoring the pace, Boult and Bumrah should make a good exit in the middle with Marco Jansen likely to replace Yadav.
The Royals’ stick hasn’t been very consistent with only Samson delivering so far with 187, averaging 46.75 and hitting 143.84. Shivam Dube has only scored 110, while Jos Buttler’s 89 are rather unacceptable. The Royals have been plagued with injuries and the absence of Ben Stokes may have hit them the most when it comes to scoring, just as the unavailability of fellow Englishman Jofra Archer injured them in the department. bowling.
The versatile Morris, although a bit profitable, has done well so far and won them the game against the Delhi Capitals with his stick tidy, while Chetan Sakariya and Jaydev Unadkat also delivered, with the latter a image of the economy over three matches. Leg spinner Rahul Tewatia will likely be retained despite his unimpressive run so far in an attempt to balance Chahar’s presence on the opposing side.
Mumbai and Rajasthan are on a level playing field when it comes to clashes with 11 games each and the odd no result, but even if the Royals appear to have the momentum, their magic could be lost against the reigning champions.
In Thursday’s late game in Ahmedabad, the third-placed Delhi Capitals face KKR, who ended their four-game losing streak by comfortably beating the Punjab Kings by five wickets in a low-scoring affair at Ahmedabad.
Eoin Morgan’s team won’t be in the mood to announce changes, especially after finally emerging from the gloom that has surrounded their campaign. Morgan seemed to apply better against PBKS, while Nitish Rana (186), Rahul Tripathi (118) shot from the start. Shivam Mavi (1/13) and Sunil Narine (2/22) and Prasidh Krishna (3/30) have enjoyed some good spells against PBKS and there will be no tampering there, but the stick of Delhi may -been the best so far and they ” I’ve been the only team to score over 1000 points so far, but their bowling hasn’t really done justice and Marcus Stoinis’ awkwardness with the ball in the final of their last game with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in -rounder fled 23 against an endemic AB de Villiers cost them dearly. Other than those six absolutely forgettable deliveries, Capitals haven’t done anything wrong, suggesting they’ll be ready to capitalize on any kind of ebb on behalf of KKR.