As the Indian Premier League season is nearing its business end, the picture is becoming more clear, and the way it stands at the moment, this Sunday extravaganza is going to be an extremely crucial fixture for both Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals.
After 11 matches, these two teams have gathered 10 points and sit just below the top four. But, a win from this game will help Mumbai jump two places to go to the third spot, thanks to their astounding net-run-rate. Rajasthan will also get the chance to do the same, should they manage to get an emphatic win tomorrow.
After losing six of their first eight games, Mumbai Indians have now won three consecutive matches, and the last of that was a spectacular won. Decent contributions from the top six batsmen, and especially from Ishan Kishan (62 from 21 balls), helped Mumbai get 210 runs on board against Kolkata Knight Riders. In reply, Dinesh Karthik and co got bundled out in a paltry 108. This victory was the main reason behind Mumbai’s fabulous net-run-rate of +0.529, the highest in the league table.
Rajasthan Royals are also in a good touch, as they have got all the points from their last two encounters. In the last game, they got the better of Chennai Super Kings who failed to defend a total of 176. It was some spectacular batting from Jos Buttler whose 95 not out took Rajasthan to victory with one ball to spare. The Englishman has now scored four fifties since he has been promoted in the batting order, and once again, the team will want him to deliver against the likes of Mitchell McClenaghan and Jasprit Bumrah.
Mumbai have finally realized the potential of Ben Cutting, and the allrounder has been used wisely. Rohit Sharma coming at number three has also helped them a lot. Moreover, the Pandya brothers have been very good with both bat and ball, and they will be expected to deliver once again. While it is unlikely to break the winning combination, one position where the team management choose to alter is the spot of JP Duminy. The South African has not yet proved his worth, and Mustafizur Rahman or Adam Milne might be trusted ahead of him, so as to strengthen the bowling attack against Rajasthan.
The Royals, however, look set to keep more or less the same lineup. Prashant Chopra and Ankit Sharma are two players who have not done much so far. The former, however, has a good domestic record and he should be able to keep his place. On the other hand, Shreyas Gopal can get a nod ahead of Ankit, for he was more economical and took some wickets in the beginning stages of the IPL.
Mumbai Indians: Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Sharma (C), Ishan Kishan (Wk), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, JP Duminy/Mustafizur Rahman/Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah, Mayank Markande.
Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler (Wk), Ajinkya Rahane (C), Sanju Samson, Prashant Chopra, Ben Stokes, Krishnappa Gowtham, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Ish Sodhi.